Mongezi Ncaphayi’s paintings employ rich, dynamic, spreading expanses of light, colour, and marked planes on paper. The work presents us with a kind of boundless energy and limitless space that speaks to an artist bent on crafting a cartography towards the profound – pictorial maps to the sublime in an age of trivial joys and the politics of popular bruising.
– Percy Mabandu, Which Way is East? Exhibition Text.
Mongezi Ncaphayi was born in 1983 in Benoni in Eastern Gauteng, South Africa, where he currently lives and works. Following his graduation with a Diploma in Art & Design from the Ekurhuleni East College-Benoni in 2005, Ncaphayi completed a Professional Printmaking Course at Artist Proof Studio in 2008. In 2012, Ncaphayi obtained a Certificate in Advanced Studies from School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA, and went on to receive multiple awards and grants, both locally and internationally. Notably, in 2013, Ncaphayi was the recipient of the prestigious Absa L’atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, earning him a three-month residency at the Cite Des Arts in Paris, France. In 2011, Ncaphayi received the Ampersand Foundation Fellowship in new York City, USA, while, in 2016, he was awarded the Prince Claus Fund Grant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Artist-in-residency programmes include: The Atelier le Grand Village Residency in Angouleme, France, in 2014; as well as the Thami Manyele Foundation Residency in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2016.
In 2016, Ncaphayi presented his inaugural solo exhibition, Spirit’s Response, as the 2013 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award-winner, which debuted at the ABSA Art Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa. The exhibition traveled to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), Port Elizabeth, South Africa; Spin Street Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa; Alliance Française, Pretoria, South Africa; and the KwaZulu Natal Society of the Arts (KZNSA), Durban, South Africa. Ncaphayi has since presented two solo exhibitions with SMAC Gallery: Journey to the One in 2016 at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg; and Which Way is East? in 2017, a large scale exhibition that first showed at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, and was recreated for an installation at The Vault exhibition space in The Silo District, Cape Town, South Africa.
Ncaphayi has participated in a number of international group exhibitions and public art projects since the start of his career in 2006. Most recently, Ncaphayi showed work as part of SMAC Gallery’s presentation for 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair at Somerset House in London, UK, in 2017, as well as the 2018 Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in Cape Town, South Africa. Additional group exhibitions include: African Amicitiae at the Arti et Amicitiae Society in association with the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Amsterdam, Netherlands; the 10th World Triennial of Printmaking in Chamalieres, France; and A Change in the Narrative: ABSA L’Atelier Winners Exhibition, Absa Art Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa, all in 2017; the 8th International Printmaking Biennale Douro at the Museu do Douro, Peso da Regua, Portugal; and The Art of Humanity at the Rubell and Norman Schafler Gallery, Pratt Institute, New York City, USA, both in 2016; Map of the New Art at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Italy; Back to the Future II: Abstract Art in South Africa – Past & Present at SMAC Gallery in Stellenbosch, South Africa; and Imago Mundi: The Art of Humanity at the Museo Carlo Bilotti in Rome, Italy, all in 2015. Ncaphayi’s work was included in Trans-Atlantic Fun-O-Pack: Print Exchange at the Edinburgh College of Arts in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2012, as well as Reclaiming Lives at the Boston Arts Academy in Boston, USA, in 2009.
Ncaphayi’s work is included in a number of important collections, including: Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington DC, USA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA; Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Manchester, USA; School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston, USA; Tracker South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa; Thami Mnyele Foundation, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Bibliothéque Nationale de France, Paris, France; The Ampersand Foundation (TAF), London, UK; ABSA Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa; Cuciano Benetton Foundation, Treviso, Italy; Mastercard Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa; The Royal Portfolio Collection, Cape Town, South Africa; The Weise Collection, Stellenbosch, South Africa; and David Krut Projects, Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa, and New York City, USA.