WSU’s artist in residence, Mandilakhe Rolinyathi stunned all with his thought provoking artwork that explore modern ideas of beauty while unsettling stigma around skin conditions: albinism, vitiligo and freckles within the amaXhosa community.


Rolinyathi said that the reason his subjects are all of Xhosa heritage allows him as the artist to hold the position of an insider.


These skin abnormalities are defined by dermatology as conditions and others disease.


“Superstitions around these skin conditions still need to be defined, yet the effects that the portrait sitters experience with their environments developed my drive as an artist to depict the sitters not merely as five senses of beings, but to push beyond the surface of appearance and allow their spirits to shine through the artworks,” said Rolinyathi.


The Art in Residence solo exhibition is a pioneering initiative that empowers a selected graduate towards showcasing a non-qualification body of work through the guidance and expertise of academic staff.


Rolinyathi’s portraits currently displayed at WSU’s Visual Art Department are a collection of friends and acquaintances whom he’d encountered overtime in his life.



Many of  Rolinyathi’s art subjects spoke of their vulnerability and sometimes deep hurt and rejection related to their skin conditions.


“They have skin abnormalities and although each is uniquely beautiful, they do not fit into the conventional constructs of the established beauty canon,” said Rolinyathi.


One can only assume that Rolinyathi’s insight into the complexities of society may be owed to his own phases and transitions into religion and social indulgence that have enabled him to intricately capture portraiture art that explores the different faces of society.


What others may have called failure after he dropped out several times from his academic studies, proved to be a journey of self and worldly discovery as he later graduated with a WSU degree in Fine Art.


Rolinyathi’s collection is appropriately themed “Portraits of Diversity.

Contact the artist for further information on current work or commissions on Facebook or call 064 698 8187

By: Sinawo Hermans



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