Renowned South African artist, Nelson Makamo, is heading to Harvard University. Makamo, whose oil painting of a child appeared on the cover of Time Magazine’s Optimists issue earlier this year, will be a visiting scholar of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Aside from giving a lecture about the future of art in Africa, he will also be receiving a Vanguard award from the Harvard African Students’ Association in recognition of his progressive art.

Nelson Makamo hails from Limpopo in South Africa. He is among a group of African artists who are making their mark on the global stage with their creative expressions. He has held many solo and group exhibitions in various cities across the world including New York, Paris, Boston, London, and Edinburgh, among others.

Mfundo Radebe, President of the Harvard African Students’ Association, commented on Makamo’s visit saying:

“Makamo’s focus on the brilliance of the African child and his vibrant and bold artwork represents that very progress…He will deliver a lecture at the Harvard Art Museums, a talk with the Center for African Studies, as well as be a discussant during the Radcliffe Institute’s Beauties exhibition by US artist Willie Cole…We’re excited for Makamo to visit Harvard and share with students and faculty his progressive vision for the African art space.”

Makamo who is based in Johannesburg was born in 1982, in a town called Modimolle, in Limpopo province. He refined his art at Artist Proof Studios in Johannesburg where he studied printmaking for three years.

A description of Nelson’s biography on his website says his work is strongly influenced by the candid innocents of children. “He is particularly drawn to children in rural South Africa, he believes that they embody the peace and harmony we all strive for in life, the search for eternal joy lies in the child within us all, we are just so consumed with worldly things that we forget the simplicity of life through a child’s perspective. He evolved his scope of experience so did his medium of expression, namely charcoal, acrylic, watercolours, mono-types, silkscreen and oil paintings,” the website says.

Makamo’s work has made a good impression, receiving positive reviews from curators and critics. Nina Mahdavi, Rise Art Curator commented on Makamo’s work writing, “I find Nelson’s drawings both moving and flawless. I personally love drawings and find that it’s important to keep this craft alive. It brings an authenticity to the work that is often overlooked in the sea of contemporary art.”

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