Zwelethu Mthwethwa was born in 1960 in Durban, Kwazulu Natal. He received his diplomas at the
Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. He also received a Fulbright Scholarship that
allowed him to study at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree in
imaging arts in 1989.
Upon returning home, he worked for some years in business before becoming a lecturer on
photography and drawing at the Michaelis School in 1994. He left the post in 199 to devote himself to
his art. He is well-known for his large format colour photographs, but also works in paint and pastel. In
2005 his work was included in the Venice Biennale.
His work is grounded in tradition, yet he imbues it with a riveting contemporary presence. He yanks the
viewer through the looking-glass into his painterly planet. It is a world full of possible windows, yet these
openings are flat surfaces soaked in subtly modulated fictions. And his paintings serve as visual songs,
their lyrics narrating a story of how painting refers to itself while being fed by experiential nutrients.
They serve both as parentheses within the real world and as vividly evocative vignettes of moments,