Dumisani Abraham Mabaso

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South African artist well known for painting and printmaking

First name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
20 June 1955
Location of birth: 
Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa

Dumisani Abraham Mabaso was born on 20 June 1955 in Soweto. He received his initial basic art training at the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) in Dube in Soweto. In 1970 to 1974 he studied art further at the Mofolo Arts Centre and then taught at the YWCA for nearly 2 years. After completing a printmaking course at Rorke’s Drift Art School, Mabaso taught at the Mofolo Arts Centre from 1978-79. In 1980-81 he headed the Fine Art department at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in Newtown, Johannesburg, and continued studying printmaking at the Witwatersrand Technikon. In 1986 he attended the New York Triangle Workshop, which annually brought together artists from around the world to exchange ideas and share knowledge. In 1987 he participated in the Thupelo Workshops in Johannesburg. Mabaso is a co-founder with Anthony Nkosi of the Hammanskraal Workshop.

Apart from painting, between 1980 and 1987 he taught printmaking at the Johannesburg Art Foundation and the African Institute of Art at Funda (Learning) Centre. Mabaso is also a musician and a runs a recording studio in Soweto. He exhibited extensively in South Africa and abroad (including 5 group shows in the USA).

Richly textured colour is foregrounded in Mabaso’s imagery, which is infused with an eye that looks at the world with wonder. Mabaso is deeply interested in African traditional craft and pottery work, and a preoccupation with pattern can be identified. Rigorous with the very process-oriented medium of printmaking, Mabaso is an artist’s artist. Just as a drawing can be record of the mark-making process that caused it, so Mabaso’s very tactile printmaking approach shows a creative energy thoroughly engaged with the medium as well as the subject. An example of this is his lithographic series Stages of the Day

Solo Exhibitions

1973 Gallery 101, Johannesburg

Group Exhibitions

1976 The Institute of Race Relations

1977 University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg

1979 Gallery 21, Johannesburg 

1983 Sguzu Print Workshop, Johannesburg 

1984 Market gallery, Johannesburg 

1985 USA 1986 Hammanskraal S.H.P, Sandton Sun 

1986 Triangle Artists' Workshop, USA 

1988 Torrensville, Australia 

1990 Cape Town National gallery, Zimbabwe 

1991 Maputo, Mozambique 

1993 Sound Shore Gallery, USA 

2000 Cape Town


1986 Triangle Artists' Workshop, USA - Thupelo Art Project, Broederstroom 

1987 Thupelo Art Project, Broederstroom 

1989 Thupelo Art Project, Broederstroom 

1990 Pachipamwe Workshop, Zimbabwe 

1991 Ujama Workshop, Mozambique

1992 ART OMI, New York, USA 

1993 Thupelo Artists' Workshop, Cape Town

Public Collections

Johannesburg Art Gallery 

Museum fur Volkerkunde, Frankfort, Germany 

Triangle Collection, Pine Plains, New York, USA 

Ponside Press, USA 


Community Art Projects

1982 - 1994 Founder & director of Sguzu Printmakers' Workshop 

1978 - 1979 S.A.C.C. Self Help Projects 

1993 Exchange programme with art teachers from Mozambique

Last updated : 28-Feb-2018

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011