Sfiso Ka-Mkame was born in Clermont on the outskirts of Durban in 1963. He continues to live there and commutes to his studio in Umkhumbane/Cato Manor each day.
Ka-Mkame is a self-taught artist but he obtained sporadic training through the 1980s. In 1988 he achieved important success with the sale, to the SA National Gallery in Cape Town, of his ‘Letters to God’ drawing series. He was an active United Democratic Front member and his early work reflected the political conflict, daily struggle and hardships he witnessed around him.
Ka-Mkame’s work is very decorative, demonstrating nostalgia for African symbols; a quest that became more urgent and challenging for him after SA’s first democratic elections in 1994. With a group of like-minded artists in Durban, he began searching for symbols of an African identity beyond the confines of his own region and this is reflected in his paintings. He works on a number of paintings simultaneously, building up dense layers of colour with oil pastels and scratching patterns into his images. He usually titles his work and this provides the viewer with the beginning of the story or narrative that has inspired his work.
It is the African women resplendent in magnificently coloured and patterned gowns that currently dominate Ka-Mkame’s artwork, reminding one of the work of artist Gustav Klimt. The visual wealth of his pastel imagery attests to an unabashed passion for his medium.
Ka-Mkame has participated in numerous group exhibitions. His first solo exhibition was held at the BAT Centre in Durban in 1996. His work can be seen in public collections throughout SA and in many important corporate art collections.