Dathini Mzayiya

Artist in Residence, Factory of the Arts

A former artist-in-residence at Greatmore studios in Woodstock, Cape Town, Dathini Mzayiya was born in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in 1979. After studying advertising and marketing at the Advertising College of South Africa, Cape Town, in 1999, he enrolled at the Peninsula Technikon (Pentech), Bellville, Cape Town, in 2000, where studied graphic design and advertising. He then registered for the Advanced Programme in Visual Arts at the Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town, in 2001. At CAP, he was taught drawing and painting by Joseph Gaylard and Sarah Schneckloth. Since then, he has shown his work, not only in South Africa, but in various parts of the world, notably Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Ethiopia. He has also participated in international projects, including a project for the South African Human Rights Media Centre in Liberia and Kenya, where he worked with survivors of torture and war. Using oil paint and charcoal, Mzayiya’s critical art depicts the socio-political landscape of the postapartheid, with particular focuses on racialised structural violence and the plight of the poor and downtrodden. His expressive paintings and drawings generally reflect disillusionment with a contemporary South Africa described by some as the ‘rainbow nation’, and his subjects range from bosses, landlords, the police and security guards to the homeless, beggars and job seekers. Mzayiya is a founding member of Western Cape branch of the Visual Arts Network of South Africa (VANSA); Africa South Arts Initiative (ASAI); CitySkin, a public space design firm; and Gugulective, an arts, culture and open education collective intent on making “the history and legacy of apartheid visible again and to combat it with artistic methods.”

Artist’s statement

“My work draws on my experiences and surroundings in South Africa, and also on the experiences of others in the everyday. Political circumstances affect all of us, directly or indirectly, and I view my work as a way of interacting with, and intervening in, social and political life, and as a way of making sense of what is happening around me. The art market has very particular tastes and doesn’t take too kindly to political art. Justice, peace, development – I question these in my work. For me, making art is a way for me to think about, and to come to term with, these issues. My painting and drawings are outcomes and translations of my thinking and grappling with these matters.”

Solo exhibitions

2005    Pop-up exhibition, BBK Gallery, Aachen, Germany

2013    ‘Under the Rainbow Rays’, Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town

Group exhibitions


  • ‘Afro metamorphosis’, Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town


  • ‘Ukozoba’ (To draw) workshop exhibition, Iziko South African National Gallery (Annex), Cape Town [Fundraising exhibition for the Community Arts Project (CAP)]
  • Galerie Halde 14, Baden, Switzerland
  • Members exhibition, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
  • ‘Absolute Voyer’, Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
  • Thupelo workshop exhibition, Iziko South African National Gallery (Annex), Cape Town


  • ‘Vision’, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
  • ‘Art Angels’, Gardens Presbyterian Church, Cape Town
  • Workshop exhibitions, Maria Worth, Reifnitz, Lienz and Kitzbuhel, Austria [three-person show with Boyce Magandela and Trish Lovemore; fundraing exhibition for the Community Arts Project (CAP)]
  • ‘Why Cry’, Greatmore Studios, Woodstock, Cape Town


  • Studio exhibition, Mowbray, Cape Town (two-person show with Thulani Shuku)
  • Untitled exhibition, The Chat Room, Cape Town
  • Live Action Painting on Canvas’, Cape Town Festival, Company’s Gardens, Cape Town


  • Atelier Haus Aachen Gallery, Aachen, Germany (Two-person exhibition with Thulani Shuku)


  • ‘Umsi’ (The smoke), Association for Visual Arts (AVA), Cape Town
  • ‘Angels without wings’, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town
  • ‘Nine South African Artists’, Hilton Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (initiated by the South African National Heritage Council)


  • ‘Nine South African Artists’, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, organised by the National Heritage Council
  • ‘Akuchanywa Apha’ (No ‘pissing’), group exhibition by Gugulective Arts Collective, KwaMlamli’s Place, Gugulethu, Cape Town
  • ‘Akuchanywa Apha’ (No ‘pissing’), group exhibition by Gugulective Arts Collective, headline event for X-Cape Fringe Festival of contemporary African Art, Cape Town; Blank Projects, Cape Town


  • ‘South Africa Performs at HAU Theatre’, Berlin (As part of Gugulective Arts Collective and with other global collectives)


  • Untitled exhibition, Glenfidich Distillary, Dufftown, Scotland
  • ‘Subversion’, Gugulective Arts Collective exhibition, Harbour, Hamburg


  • Gugulective Arts Collective exhibition during Creative Week 2014, Kwalamli’s Place, Gugulethu, Cape Town


  • Foreign Press Centre, Cape Town
  • Chris Barnard Heart Centre, University of Cape Town (UCT)
  • Villach Town Hall, Austria
  • Private collections in South Africa and Europe



  • ‘Aluta Continua’, a work commissioned by the Human Rights Media Centre and shown at the Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg (with Nkoali Nawa)


  • ‘Inspired by Picasso’, an art work commissioned by Top Billing Magazine, South Africa, and featured on Top Billing TV programme



  • ‘Ukuzoba’ (To draw), Community Arts Project (CAP), Cape Town
  • ‘Ukuzoba’ (To draw), public workshops, Baden, Austria; Villach, Switzerland, and Berlin (with Trish Lovemore and Boyce Magandela)
  • Mural painting workshop, Nomlingaliselo Primary School, New Crossroads, Cape Town (with Sipho Hlathi, Lonwabo Kilani and Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi)


  • Thupelo Workshop, Iziko South African National Gallery (Annex)


  • Mural painting at the train station, Aachen-Schanz, Germany (Global Mural, Aachen – Cape Town Agenda 21)
  • Workshop and mural painting with students at Inda-Gymnasium, Aachen, Germany (Aachen – Cape Town Agenda 21)
  • Mural painting at the Khayelitsha Training Centre, Cape Town (Aachen – Cape Town  LA21 Partnership)
  • ‘Swop’, painting workshop with students from Mitchells Plain, Manneneberg and Khayelitsha, Luhlaza High School, Khayelitsha, Cape Town (Aachen – Cape Town Agenda 21)
  • Painting workshop with AIDS-affected children from the Fikelela Children’s Home, Khayelitsha, Cape Town (Aachen – Cape Town LA21 Agenda)


  • ‘Umsi’ (The smoke), painting workshop, Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town


  • Workshop with Arts and Media Access Centre (AMAC) students by City Skin design, resulting in a mural at the lower cable station, Table Mountain, Cape Town



  • Re-design of the ‘Apple Box’ travelling exhibition for Robben Island Museum, Cape Town (with Lonwabo Kilani and Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi)


  • Mural painting, Nomlinganiselo Primary School, New Crossroads, Cape Town
  • Development of the Khayelitsha Remembrance Square, Khayelitsha, for the City of Cape Town


  • Mural painting project, ‘Hands off our children’, Sanlam Centre, Khayelitsha, Cape Town
  • Painting and drawing workshop, Community House, Salt River, Cape Town, organised by Human Rights Media Centre and Khulumani



  • Youth Award from the Khayelitsha Youth Development Forum (KYDF), Cape Town

Other work


  • Moderate of student art works (N4 and N6), Cape College (now the College of Cape Town)

View the gallery:

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