Brief Autobiography

Louis Khehla Maqhubela was born in Durban in 1939. Between 1955 and 1959 he attended the Orlando High School and 1959 he won the second prize in an art competition organised by the Rembrandt group. One of his paintings was included in the second exhibition of Artists of fame and promise in 1959. He studied part-time under Cecil Skotnes at Jubilee centre in Johannesburg, the Polly Street Art Centre. During the following years he participated in several group exhibitions and in 1966 he won first prize in the last exhibition Artists of Fame and Promise which was a trip to Europe. This trip in 1966 gave him a chance to observe, study and meet other artists including the South African expatriate Douglas Portway, Portway who greatly impressed him and was to influence his work. He began to use oil paints, often on paper, and began a series of small semi abstract linear figurations using dark tones and vivid flashes of pure colour. Maqhubela was drawn back to Europe in 1973, he settled first in Spain and later, in 1978, he settled in London. He attended the Goldsmith College in 1984 - 85 and from 1985 - 88 the Slade School of Art where he gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Printmaking.

Art Education and/or training

1956-58 Polly Street Art Centre, Johannesburg

1959 Jubilee Art Centre, Johannesburg

1960 Design Centre, Johannesburg

1984-1985 Goldsmith College of Art and Design, University of London

1985-1988 Printmaking, Slade School of Art

Philosophy, Technique or style

Using watercolour, conti and collage, Maqhubela began as a genre painter. His representations included figures, religious works, animals, birds and urban scenes. Often a single bird symbolised the unfettered spirit, which was a manifestation of oppression. By 1966, he began interpretation of philosophical and religious themes. From 1968, colour was the most important factor in his compositions, which were done in oil on paper. After touring European galleries, his work changed technically and aesthetically. 1971 saw a radical transformation consisting of painting on canvas in a colourful and distinctive style. His new work comprises abstract compositions, illuminated by floating colour shapes bound together by symbolic drawings of human and animal forms. His designs are scattered randomly over the canvas as he scratches paint down to the surface of the paper or canvas. Since 1990, his work shows a greater abstraction and non-figurative style. This intense symbolism results in an individuality, making him

one of South Africas’s foremost painters.


1959 Prize, Rembrandt Corporation School Exhibition

1961 First Prize, Artists of fame and promise competition

1966 Grand Awards, Artists of fame and promise competition

1969 Cambridge Shirt Award in Art

1973 Prize, African Arts magazine, Los Angeles



Jubilee Social Centre, Johannesburg


Township Halls, Jabavu, Soweto, 1964

Mofolo Park Recreation Centre, Soweto

Oppenheimer Park, Soweto

Kempton Park Johannesburg (30”x30” mosiac)

South African Embassy, London



Group shows

1959 “Artists of Fame and Promise”, Johannesburg

1962 “Bijou Paintings”, Lawrence Adler Gallery, Johannesburg

1963 “Polly Street Artists “, Cape Town

1964 “Gallery Artists” Lawrence Adler Gallery, Johannesburg

1965 “Township Life”, with Gerard Sekoto and Lucas Sithole in Johannesburg

1960, 1961, 1962, 1966, 1967 First one-man exhibition at the Alder Fieldings Galleries, Johannesburg

1963, 1968, 1971 Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg

1965, 1967 Picadilly Gallery, London

1967, 1969 Durban Art Museum

1969 Cambridge Shirt Award on Art S.A. Today

1969, 1970 “Contemporary African Artists” Camden Arts Centre, London

1969 Helen de Leeuw, Johannesurg

1969, 1974, 1976 Gallery International, Cape Town

1970, 1988, 1988 Johannesburg Art Gallery

1971 Johannesburg Artists - Johannesburg Art Gallery Diamond Jubilee Exhibition

1973 London Arts Gallery

1974 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

1974 Gallery 21, Johannesburg

1981 Standard Bank, Soweto

1981 Black Art Today, Soweto

1983 University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

1985-87 “Voices from Exhile”, USA Travelling exhibition starting from Washington DC. Works by 6 South Africans based in Europe and the USA.

1987 “Summer show”, Jariwala Gallery, London

1987 South African Nation al Gallery, Cape Town

1988 “Watercolour Paintings “, Royal Institute of watercolourists, Mall Galleries, London

1988 “White Chapel Open”, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

1990 “Major Works”, Vanessa Devereux Gallery, London “Beyond The Barriers”,

1998 Gallery, London “Art From South Africa”, Museum Of Modern Art, Oxford

1991 Vita Art Now Exhibition, The Johannesburg Art Gallery

1998 Vanessa Devereux Gallery, Royal Society of Painters

1999 National Museum of African Art, Washington DC

1999 The Graham Collection, Washington DC

Slade Alumni

Solo shows

1968, 1969, 1970 Lidchi Art Gallery, Johannesburg

1970 Gallery International, Cape Town

1971, 1972, 1973, 1977 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

1975 Galeria Ivan Spence, Spain

1985, 1990, 1993, 1996 The Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

1989, 1991 Vanessa Devereux Gallery, London

1992 Holland

1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 Art First 

Public Collections

Johannesburg Art Gallery

South African National Gallery, Cape Town

Africana Museum, Johannesburg

Sandton Municipal Collection, Sandtron, Johannesburg

University of Fort Hare Collection, Alice

Pretoria Museum

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

BUPA House, London

South Africa House

Standard Bank, Johannesburg

National Museum of African Art, Washington DC

Private Collections

Numerous collections in S.A, Europe and U.S.A 

Corporate Collections

Numerous collections in S.A, Europe and U.S.A