b. 1960, South Africa
Born in Ixopo, Kwazulu-Natal, Sandile Zulu came of age during a time when he routinely experienced the unequal access to land, education and resources that defined the apartheid era in South Africa. An awareness of these inequities and the tensions between exclusion and inclusion, history and the present, continue to inflect his work. Yet, he is motivated by a combination of the creative imagination and a philosophical outlook that motivates his visual explorations of the interconnectedness of all things--cells, bodies, plants and planets; art, science and philosophy.
Zulu began his formal arts education in 1982 at the competitive Rorke's Drift Art and Craft Centre, which afforded talented black South Africans with access to art materials and training. It closed after his first year, at which time he was among a select few black students permitted entrance to the Technikon Natal in Durban. In 1993 he received his degree from the prestigious University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg. It was at Witswatersrand that Zulu began his first experiments with fire. His first solo show, Fire!, took place a mere two years later at the Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery in Johannesburg. For that landmark exhibition, Laurent Devèze wrote, "There is the tenacity of the explorer in this young artist's work, always exploring further and further. Following with extreme caution the biting of the flame on the cardboard, Sandile makes incredible discoveries; what turns the burning into a track, and what makes the consumed become an incandescence." Nearly 16 years later, Zulu's explorations with fire have been exhibited across South Africa, Europe and in New York City. The National Museum of African Art is honored to bring Zulu to Washington D.C. for the first time and join his extraordinary vision with that of Henrique Oliveira of Brazil.