Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta is a giant of the South African art world who’s passionate about building the youth in Gqeberha (formerly known as Port Elizabeth).

Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta is an internationally celebrated South African artist whose work has been exhibited in Sweden, Nigeria and The US. In addition to exhibitions around the world, his work can also be found here at home, in places like Gqeberha’s GFI Art Gallery. One of his works ‘Fish Bird’ is also famously exhibited at Donkin Reserve, a popular tourist destination in the city that was revamped for the 2010 football world cup.

This painter, sculpture and poet is unique in that he has dedicated a great deal of his time to giving back and teaching future generations.

The New Brighton Art School is situated where he grew up, giving him a deep personal sense of connection to its surroundings. Through inspiring others, he hopes to be like his mentor, George Pemba, whom he refers to as the “grand master of township life scenes.”

“Of all the things I’ve done as an artist, the exhibitions, the public monuments, the travels, I feel like this is the greatest moment. This is the greatest gesture. This is the greatest break-through that I’ve done. Giving back to the communities and nurturing young, growing talent,” shares Mxolisi.

He adds, “What I’ve found, working with these guys, is that they have untold stories that the parents don’t listen to. People don’t listen to the youth, so I feel like I give them the opportunity and a platform to express themselves.”     

Mxolisi’s artworks tell stories that can teach us more about who we are, so it makes sense that his passion for sparking intrigue in his students means so much to him. With a mentor like him, a giant of the South African art world, these young hopefuls have a bright future.


What does ‘living better’ mean to you? / How are you aspiring to live better? 

“Living better means that the “betterness” itself must be reflected by my surroundings and environment.”

What legacy would you like to leave behind?

“I would love to leave behind tangible legacies where the communities (black townships) would enjoy sustainable platforms of learning, creative practices and a particular art scene.”

What 2 valuable lessons / pieces of advice would you like to share with South Africa?

“To transform the education system for the benefit of the youths to be reflective of their true identities, for instance, the black  youths od South Africa are still being taught about the Holocaust while there are genocides that were inflicted in Africa on black Africans to learn about and that Black Consciousness philosophies and strong family values and contraceptives be emphasised in basic education.”

Where do you go to escape and connect with yourself?

“I am not sure if I wish to call that an escape… but I connect with myself in my studio. I’m almost there all the time.”

Do you have an encouraging quote for us, to end off on? 

“The world is a dark place hidden behind highly polished shoes, national flags and strip clubs.”