About Michele Nigrini | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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About The Artist

Artist Photo

Artist Biography

Michèle matriculated from Afrikaans Girls’ High School, Pretoria, in 1982, and went on to study Tourism at Pretoria Technicon and then Fine Arts at the University of Pretoria, where she was ultimately awarded an MA (Fine Arts) in 1993.

Michèle attracted nationwide interest in 1994 when the Rupert Art Foundation bought all of the available work on her first Solo Exhibition, including her Master’s degree installation 'Kleursimfonie', an extraordinary piece consisting of more than 300 A4 sized paintings. Following the purchase, Michèle was given the opportunity to travel with the panel for a year, exhibiting it and presenting lectures on colour to a wide variety of audiences. Once returned to the collection, it was put into storage until August 2015 when the panel was hung again at The Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch. It is currently being displayed together with other acclaimed South African artists from what has been described as 'the premier collection of contemporary South African art'

Career Highlights

Michèle’s career to date has included:

  • 25 solo exhibitions, 200 group exhibitions, numerous Art Festivals;
  • Participation in international projects, including the Florence Biennial, Italy 2005, Chianciano Biennial, Italy 2009 and, by invitation, the London Biennial 2013;
  • Lectures and workshops;
  • Commissions for corporate clients;
  • Documentary installations;
  • Audio and Visual stage productions

Since 2004, Michèle has been living and working in Rosendal in the Eastern Free State, where her art is on permanent display at the Michèle Nigrini Studio.

Collections include banks, corporates, museums, universities and private collections all over the world.


  • Certificate in Tourism, Technicon, Pretoria, South Africa, 1983
  • BA (Fine Arts), University of Pretoria, 1987
  • Honours (History of Art), University of Pretoria, 1992
  • MA (Fine Arts), University of Pretoria, 1993

Artist Statement

I believe that art is a medium for the elevation of the spirit, yet my work remains rooted in the experience of everyday life. I present images which reflect my own surroundings – drawing sustenance from the environment in which I live: household objects, people, pets, landscapes and the varied structures within them, gardens, flowers, plants, trees, stones, hedges, grass, the odd image of a fish or a cow, a windmill or a bird. 

"They are objects which we usually take for granted, but the extent to which we take these everyday objects for granted is the precise extent to which they govern and inform our lives - representing the logos of a culture and recording its life history."

I play with different mediums, draw with different objects. My approach is based on visual sensations, and markmaking is the most fundamental element in my art – a scratch of charcoal, a line of ink, a splash of colour, is how I express emotion, movement and the essence of my theme - the subject matter merely the vehicle for the interaction of line, form, mark and texture, with colour  the most important element  for optic and emotional impact. My aim is not to copy my environment, but to re-interpret it, allowing a different way of seeing.  The familiar images, mostly non-specific and anonymous, mirror certain human truths by capturing a gesture, a mood, an emotion - "Although I interpret nature, I strive to express the essential character of things, submitting it to the spirit of the place... a condensation of sensations, so to speak."  

I like to generate and reflect energy in my work. An energy established by activating the canvas with chance markings - initially using the blank surface as a palette or space to jot down fragments and scraps of ideas, and then proceeding with the actual painting which ultimately becomes a dialogue between the canvas and me.

I want the viewer to interpret the work according to their own imagination and frame of reference. The outcome is never predictable, and the eventual context and meaning of the work for the most part intuitive and a "curated accident".

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