South Africa: Percy Maimela - the Artist Who Draws Portraits in Salt


Percy Maimela worked for years as a merchandiser, until one day he saw a dropped bag of salt on the floor, its contents dispersed on the ground. Where others would have seen a mess, he saw a blank canvas.

It's mid-afternoon in Johannesburg when we meet Percy Maimela, a young artist, in his studio in August House. He has just moved in, excited to finally be among his peers, other artists who have been using the space as their studio; but he is also in awe to be working in the very building that witnessed the rise of Nelson Makamo, Kudzanai Chiurai, Nicholas Hlobo and Mary Sibande. Maimela sees it as a good omen.

"I moved here to learn more about the in-depth of the [art] business and learn more from people who are practising it, who are my peers...

"I'm definitely getting a lot of information that I didn't know existed. Before I moved to August House, before I took art seriously, I didn't know how a huge number of artists were making a living off their art," he says.

August House was launched in 2008, several floors of ateliers, set in a 1940s building in downtown Jo'burg; its...

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