Joy, Oil on Canvas, 120cm by 90cm. (2013)
Joy, Oil on Canvas, 120cm by 90cm. (2013)

Nelson Mandela Tribute Exhibition

In commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s remarkable 95 years and to coincide with what would have been his 96th birthday, Art Afrique gallery in Sandton City will be hosting a Mandela tribute exhibition featuring several Nelson Mandela portraits painted by artist Marc Alexander. The exhibition will be opened by the artist at 18:30 on the 16th of July and run until the 31st of July 2014.

Over the last four years artist Marc Alexander has caused a sensation in the Art world with his highly realistic and expressive portraits inspired by the lives of those who have left behind a legacy of self-sacrifice and compassion for the poor. Amongst these are more than 18 extraordinary portraits of our much-loved Nobel Peace Prize laureate and statesman, Nelson Mandela, who has become a world icon of reconciliation, compassion and goodwill.

Alexander explains the factors that make his portraits so unique; “As a portrait painter I would have liked nothing less than to have the honour of meeting the great Nelson Mandela in person and have him sit for a portrait. Unfortunately for me, this dream was never realised, none the less, after producing many portraits of him, I have become so familiar with every spot and wrinkle on his face. So much so, that my latest preliminary sketches require little or no photographic references and are drawn from my imagination. I might use a reference for the buildings in the backgrounds, such as in my portraits entitled ‘Robben Island Revisited’ and ‘A visit to the Union Buildings’”. Then only when I am entirely satisfied with the new composition and expression in the preliminary sketch do I go on to produce a large scale portrait in oil.”

Indeed, these portraits are so lifelike, that they are often viewed with amazement, especially by those who had known Mandela personally. As the late photo journalist Alf Kumalo, commented, “Alexander has captured the essence of Mandela’s compassion, sense of forgiveness, and kind-heartedness perfectly”.

It is no surprise then that limited edition prints of these portraits are being snatched up by admirers and collectors from all over the world, including the likes of Mandela’s dear friend and former USA president Bill Clinton. More recently, the Presidency of South Africa purchased prints from Alexander, as gifts for all the dignitaries who attended President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration on 24 May.

The popularity of these portraits, however, are not only limited to the sale of paintings and prints. ‘Man of Peace’ has featured on the cover to IFR (Institute of Retirement funds) publication and will soon embellish the commemorative program cover of Humanities Team South Africa’s event, where the posthumous Spiritual Leadership Award will be received by the Nelson Mandela Foundation on behalf of Nelson Mandela at Freedom Park on the 27th July. The portrait ‘Corporate Series #2’ was used by the University of Stellenbosch on nine large banners to grace their buildings and surrounding streets to celebrate International Mandela Day and as a tribute commemorating Mandela’s life after his passing in December 2013. In September 2012, Alexander’s painting of Mandela with fist up in front of the South African flag entitled, ‘Hope for South Africa,’ was stolen from a gallery in Johannesburg. Despite the theft, a high resolution download of this image has gained global fame on the internet.

Also noteworthy is Alexander’s charitable collaboration with the Robben Island Arts Company and Trust (RIACT), founded by Cape Town artist Chris Swift. Swift, a graduate of the Michaelis Art School and a maker of art from found objects, rescued from a landfill, the 3m high fencing that had once surrounded the Robben Island Block D, the Maximum Security Prison, where Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Tokyo Sexwale, Kgalema Motlanthe, Jacob Zuma and at least 3,000 other political prisoners were held. Authenticated segments of this historic fence attached to limited edition prints of Alexander’s portraits, form a splendid collector’s investment item that is rapidly escalating in value. A large percentage of the profits from this venture is donated to various charities.

Alexander adds, “Like many South Africans, I have keenly followed the life and career of Nelson Mandela and I have held on to the same hope for a better South Africa for all as he did. My prayer is that these portraits will keep reminding us of this hope and the noble things we remember about our champion.”

The exhibition will showcase several framed prints as well as Alexander’s latest creations. All prints are printed on 300g Hahnemuhle acid free archival paper with HP Vivera Inks, offering a 200 year guarantee against fading.

For further information, please inquire at