Nkosinathi Quwe

Nkosinathi Quwe grew up in a small town called Butterworth in the Eastern Cape (former Transkei). From a young age he was fascinated by the tradition of oral narration. His grandmother would keep his imagination alight with animated stories of beasts and cannibals that roamed the earth in a time

forgotten. He started drawing from his imagination all he could, trying to recreate the stories in his own way and using his immediate environment as a source of inspiration.

He knew that he wanted to make art that would tell his own story, inspire hope and address hard and delicate issues. He realized that he wanted to make art that healed people, instead of focusing too much on social ills. He started by working with charcoal and paint on paper. Later on, his compositions would be influenced by the multi-layered and multi-faceted nature of stories.

He drew his inspiration from local Artists like Dumile Feni, William Kentridge and the internationally acclaimed Jean-Michel Basquiat and many others.

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Artist Statement

My paintings are inspired by hope and a desire to transform one’s life for the better. My work is further enthused by stories of victory and success through hardships. To hope is to fight to see another day and this philosophy has been an integral part of my life and art practice. My images are composed to inspire the wildest desire for change, zeal for life itself, self-development and transformation of Self.


Through my work I use imagery that investigate rituals that are performed and utilized solely for the purpose of rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit: baptisms, prayer, meditation, sabbaticals or self-imposed isolation for spiritual upliftment. I use these visual devices as springboards to initiate a spiritual launch into a state of readiness, expectation- accompanied by a state of serenity and resignation before the big wave of adversity. This is then followed by the much- needed transformation of Self. I use images of water or the ocean in my work for two aspects: firstly, as a symbol of life’s challenges that come at us like waves- one after the other. Also, as an impediment, barrier or an experience that one has to go through. Secondly, as a symbol of transformation, cleansing or dying of the old and then hopefully, the birth of the new. Baptism in itself is symbolic of such ideas, the old Self submerged in water only to come out renewed or reborn.


My goal is to capture the beauty, audacity and bravery of one wanting to change their life for the better- against all odds. The pursuit of happiness is not one without challenges and risk, but keeping hope alive could see us through times of uncertainty. If anything at all, I wish that my work gives people hope.


Nationality: South Africa