|1961- 2005 born in Johannesburg|
Maleka, a Northern Sotho by descent, died tragically in a car accident at the age of 44 at the end of 2005. Maleka attended school in Soweto in Johannesburg in the 1970's and studied at the African Art School in Witbank. In 1976 at the age of 15, he was one of the 20 000 children who took part in the protest march against a Bantu Education Department regulation that Afrikaans be used as one of the languages of instruction in secondary schools. In the same year Maleka left South Africa as a political refugee. Maleka went to Kenya, where he finished his A levels and in 1979, aged 18, he went to France where he studied Social Science and Psychology.
In Paris, Maleka was made aware of older South African artists that had
settled in Paris, people like Ernst Mancoba who died 2002, and Gerard
Sekoto before he died in Paris in 1993. Maleka was still a young man and
the advice of older South African artists such as Mancoba helped broaden
his understanding of art. In a interview I had with Maleka in 2005 before
the Encompass exhibition at The Cape Gallery, Maleka said of these older
I was overjoyed to get an email from Veronica Maleka, Charle’s
German ex-wife just before the exhibition opened. She explained how she
met him in Aachen Germany and they were married in 1989. Veronica says
Maleka divides his work into two different styles. His black and white style which is done in charcoal and a colourful style that developed later. In the black and white style Maleka tended to be more structured and figurative. He reflects that his early politized work was "partly angry and partly sad". Later a new colourful style emerged, in this he used spontaneous free brush strokes done in bright aquarelle on paper. In this style Maleka leaves behind the one point perspective of his representational art and makes use of many view points through his abstraction. In the interview I had with Maleka he said he purposefully did not mix one colour into another. Together the pure colours harmonise, they interact and affect each other. Maleka said in the interview I had with him “I let my brush free to the music. I let it dance and respond to the instruments.”
Veronica also tells us Maleka was a remarkable painter, a lyrical poet and a dignified percussionist. The then ambassador of the South African in Bonn, Mrs. Lindiwe Mabuza, became a great admirer of his art. She opened one of his last exhibitions here in Aachen. Veronica also mentions their daughter, who went to Barcelona with her school this summer, confirmed that Charles`s name is mentioned on a memory board in the Picasso museum as a member of a group exhibition in 1984.
Even though Maleka has died we can still get to know the man through the art he has left behind. Maleka’ artwork does not have to be understood on a literal level. The viewer must simply allow the harmony of colour and form to resonate and talk to them.
compiled by: Kitty Dörje
Bibliography for abouve insert:
Studied at the Academy of Art, Marstricht, Netherlands qualifying
with a Diploma in Fine Arts.
Artist: CHARLES MALEKA
Title: Angel Dance I
Size: 34.5 x 39 cm
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