I search with my eyes line, form, texture, rhythm from all angles

Mishack Raphalalani

“I am a self-taught artist, but art is injected into my blood from my ancestors, the Mbedzi (Hungwe) clan. They were masters of iron melting and builders of dry stone walls and sacred sites. They were miners of gold, copper and iron. They processed it at Mapungubwe and traded the finished articles at Sofala at Humubvumo at the coast of the Vhimbi (Indian) ocean. My grandfather was a carver of Domba teaching-aids and even canoes to cross big rivers. Art is in my blood,” says Mishack.

He set imprisoned figures free

This creative genius chips away from wood to go to what he has already seen in his mind’s eye – with startling clarity. He says he does not seek to fashion wood into an object of art but rather goes to the depths of his block of wood to ‘set free the imprisoned figure’.

One of only two Heralds of South Africa

Mishack was born in 1950 at Tshakhuma in Venda. In primary school, he recalls sketching for his classmates in exercise books in exchange for a few coins. Today Mishack is an artist of international repute and one of only two Heralds in South Africa .

Well known master pieces

Some of Mishack’s well known master pieces include The Flood, depicting a mother and child fleeing the rising flood waters, and The Domba which graces the entrance of the University of Zululand. The Dhomba dance, is the famous snake/fertility dance of young Venda girls during their coming of age ritual. Mishack’s works were included in several group exhibitions in the Sanderling Gallery. In Paris, France his figures have found recognition in the South African embassy. His Domba 1 is in the SASOL’s collection of contemporary SA art. In 1986 he got commissioned to do sculptures for a set of Venda Stamps. He exhibited at the Cape Triennal in the eighties and also had a solo exhibition of Helen de Leew during that time. (Some of this information comes from an article done by Ms EV Thomas).

Contact details:

Mishack Matamela Raphalalani
Tshakhuma 20km West of Thohoyandou
+27(0)81 813 0069