David Koloane Biography

South African painter David Nthubu Koloane was born in Alexandria, Johannesburg. He received his art training from 1974 to 1977 at the Bill Ainslie Studios, which later became the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Since the late 1970s, Koloane has been a pioneer in the development of the black art community in South Africa. He co-founded Johannesburg’s first black art gallery and was the head of Fine Arts at the Federative Union of Black Artists (FUBA). FUBA acts as an agency for Black artists, creating an awareness of their work in South Africa and other foreign markets, while providing classes in music, singing, the arts, and theatre for over 3,000 young people per month. He was instrumental in establishing studio space for black artists at The Fordsburg Artists’ Studios (The Bag Factory) and he founded the Thupelo Workshops in South Africa, a concept that spread to Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Koloane’s work has been shown in South Africa, Botswana, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. He has participated in many solo exhibitions as well as group shows. Koloane’s work is included in museums and private collections. A reflective and well-published writer, Koloane has written on issues pertaining to Black South African art and the racism in the South African art world. He has also been outspoken about the difficulty in obtaining an art education in South Africa.

Committed to the visual art world, Koloane’s art reflects a personal struggle to illuminate the experiences of black South Africans to the world. Koloane is an acclaimed artist, educator, writer, curator and facilitator. He has been recognised and honoured internationally for his contribution to the visual arts in South Africa. He was invited to curate the South African section in the exhibition Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London (1995) and later shown at the Guggenheim in New York (1996).

David Koloane looks with a lively and perceptive eye at the bustling urban environment that has shaped his works, with a particular focus on the complexities of the South African urban landscape. His work is often recurring and commonly depicts township scenes, dogs, cityscapes and jazz music. His work has been described as “a curious blend of sombre epiphanies and mesmerising celebrations of our collectivity as human beings.” (O’Toole, S., Artbio, July 2003)

Koloane collaborated with the David Krut Workshop in 2009 to produce the body of work Wings of Freedom.  Koloane is also the subject of TAXI-006 David Koloane, from the TAXI Art Book series published by David Krut.  In 2014 Koloane was commissioned to produce a work (Fantasy III) for the group exhibition The Benediction of Shade II.