Cyprian Shilakoe was born in Barberton, Mpumalanga in 1946. He grew up on Bushbuckridge mission station with his grandmother, as his parents were migrant workers. When she died in 1962 he moved to Soweto.
Shilakoe was one of the first group artists who preferred working in linocut and concentrated on producing etchings that were often combined with aquatint. He was closely associated with Dan Rakgoathe and, like him, his work has a profound visionary quality.
Shilakoe’s work is tempered by the fact that he also wished to record the events of his time and the experiences of black people under apartheid, as well as their traditional legends and myths. Most of his contemporaries recorded the harsh realities of day to day life. He preferred to depict these events in a highly personal and symbolic language.
He participated in numerous group exhibitions in Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Italy, England, USA, and Australia.
He had been awarded first prize for printmaking at UCLA.
He was killed in a car accident in 1972.
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