South African artist, Nelson Makamo, lands TIME cover.

South African fine artist, Nelson Makamo’s painting graces the cover of TIME Magazine’s Optimists issue. The oil on canvas piece titled Vision of a limitless future is one of two covers, the other is of legendary actress Cecily Tyson. It took Makamo 4 months to complete the painting.

Nelson Makamo

The inspiration behind Makamo’s painting is his 11 year-old cousin Mapule who often models for him. He told TIME that he wanted to do a fairly simple image of a child because it was something everyone could relate to. “Later in life we somehow forget there’s beauty in being. But children are just discovering that,” he said.

Makamo had not done a magazine cover before TIME approached him. He revealed that he was scared because even though he had been working for a long time, it still felt like a debut.

The 34 year old award winning artist grew up in the small town of Modimelle in Limpopo, South Africa. He was drawn to art from a young age. He admired Van Gogh and Picasso but it was African artists who inspired him more. Dumile Feni, a South African artist who went into exile during apartheid impacted Makamo a great deal.

Award winning film-maker Ava DuVernay guest-edited the issue. She had been in contact with Makamo since 2017 when she purchased his artwork from an auction.

Nelson Makamo with Ava DuVernay

Makamo’s current favorite African artists are fellow South Africans Sam Nhlengethwa, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Dineo Popape and Nigerian visual artist Toyin Ojih Odutole.

Makamo has been exhibited in France, USA, Netherlands and Scotland. His most recent solo exhibition was 2018’s The Awakening which was exhibited at CIRCA in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Writer. Art lover. Feminist.

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