Why do South African kids have to identify with spandex-clad American superheroes?
They need a comic book character who looks like them and speaks the same language, 28-year-old Loyiso Mkize says. So he created Kwezi, a 19-year-old superhero. Mkize’s career as an illustrator began when he started drawing for SupaStrikers, a soccer comic newspaper supplement, while he was studying graphic design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
He eventually joined SupaStrikers full-time and was head illustrator by the time he resigned in 2015. He has his own visual art and communications company, Loyiso Mkize Art, and is a self-taught oil painter. He had his first solo exhibition in 2011 and, soon after, he exhibited at the Johannesburg Art Fair and was commissioned to paint a portrait of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who attended its unveiling.
He was also commissioned to create a large portrait of Nelson Mandela. Illustration resonates with the 13-year-old in him, and the paintings with his adult side. While he is frank about the difficulties of being a black artist in the South African art world, he says there is also an advantage. “There is a huge vitality and aliveness you find in any artist of colour, in a very direct, deliberate statement, because for very long our voices were muted.
“If you want to succeed you need to do what you love,” says Innovator,Loyiso Mkize.
Find Mkize on Twitter: @loyiso_mkize