About Mike Mmutle | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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About The Artist

Artist Photo

(1948 - 2010)

Born 19 December 1948 in Lady Selborn at the Holy Cross Clinic

His parents lived at Marabastad, 1 St Avenue (where Belle Ombre Station is at present)

Mmutle family moved from Marabastad to Bantuli Village in 1952 and again to Lady Selborne in 1956. From Lady Selborne the family moved to Atteridgeville in 1957. The family again moved to Ga- Rankuwa in 1967 because all Tswana people were forced to move to former Bophuthatswana.

At the age of 12 years Michael discovered small Madonna bronzes and some paintings owned by his grandfather at the back of a cupboard. These works were the first inspiration. From there Michael discovered his inborn untapped artistic talent, from then on Michael started drawing and sketching and never stoped.

In 1972 Michael met Professor Walter Battiss which resulted in a long lasting relationship. Battiss shared knowledge of colour and the use of pencil and often criticised Michael's works. Mistakes were pointed out in a constructive way and good points were complemented. Battiss was very impressed with Michael as an artist and even supplied him with a personal letter in order to assist Michael with the selling of his artworks.

Mr Schweikerdt from Schweikerdt Arts Gallery bought Michael's first drawings, and inspired Michael to continue painting.

Michael was one of the only African artists who attended art workshops presented by UNISA art department at a time when UNISA was still situated in Skinner Street Pretoria. Battiss introduced him to these workshops.

In Ga-Rankuwa during the 1970's there was a lively interaction among numerous artists like, Lefifi Tlandi, Isaac Nkoana, Fekile Magadlela, Johny Riveiro, David Phoshoko, The late Ranku Padi Victor Mkumbusa, etc. Mmutle and Ribeiro were the only artists working in oil paint at the time. These artists were involved with teaching art, Music, Dance and Drama among the youth.

Geoff Mphakathi initiated and organised many art exhibitions of these African artist' works at various Embassies in Pretoria in the early 1970's. These exhibitions sold well and inspired Michael to continue painting.

A group exhibition of African Artists' work resulted in Mmutle's first solo exhibition that was held in 1978 at Arcadia Centre. Numerous group exhibition followed.

During the 1980's Mmutle practised full-time as an artist. There were hardly any exhibitions held during the 1980's and Michael sold most of his work independently to individuals.

The Badisha project was initiated in the 1980's. Setlogelo Technikon provided workshop space until 1993. While working Michael was actively involved in teaching young artists as well as working with them on communal art projects. This resulted in big communal wood panels, woodcuts and sculpture. Badisha also actively participated in Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 and exhibited at the Sandton Civil Gallery.

Michael aimed throughout his artistic career at improving and mastering his medium and technique before considering expressing his emotions and dreams. Places of historical and cultural significance often form part of Michael's Landscapes, e.g. the mountains at Mmakau, a village next to Ga-Rankuwa.

Known places and people, e.g. the mountains and rural areas around Ga-Rankuwa women and children of these areas as well as township scene and that of Marabastad are among his favourite subject matter.

Light and colour are very prominent in Michael's paintings. He strives to capture the clarity and brightness of the African sunlight. Bluish purple in particular is significant to him. It creates an illusion of distance in his paintings and contributes to a feeling of spirituality and mystery. An unrestrained atmosphere, peace and tranquillity characterises all his works.

At present, Michael is a Departmental Head of Fine Arts Department at Arts For All (Pretoria Community Arts Project). he has been heading this department for the past two years. Teaching all forms of visual art to students of all ages. Also organising and curating exhibitions of students works.


  • 1970's: Various group exhibitions at the American, German, Canadian, Australian and French Embassies
  • 1978: Solo exhibition at Arcadia Centre.
  • 1993: SAAA (NTVL) and Fuba Arts Academy in collaboration with Get Ahead foundation - exhibition.
  • 1993: Group exhibition at the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
  • 1993: Drawing Exhibition by African Artists from the Greater Pretoria Region.
  • 1994: BADISHA Project - 1995 Africa's JHB Biennale, Sandton Civic Gallery
  • 1995: Artists from the Greater Pretoria Exhibition - UNISA Art Gallery
  • 1996: Solo exhibition (UNISA)
  • 1996: MERMAID Theatre Gallery, LONDON
  • 1997: ST. Mary's DSG ART EXPO 97
  • 1997: Invited and travelled to GHANA, ACCRA-ELMINA to exhibition paintings at the PAN AFRICA ART FESTIVAL.
  • 1998: Exhibited 3D Design and style DECOR.
  • 1998: The spirit and Images of African, SAA Northern Transvaal.
  • 1998: United Nations High Commission
  • 2001: One Man Exhibition - Art Association: N Tvl - July 21 - 7 Aug - Opening Speech by Peter Binsbergen

    Commissions and Collections:

  • 1999 Mural for transnet - Walker Station and Devenish Station
  • 2000 Mural for City property - Time Place
  • 2001 Mural for transnet - Pretoria Station and Loftus Station
  • 2001 Mural for City Property - Schoeman and Bosman
  • 2002 Murals for City Property - Station Place
  • 2003 Murals for City Property - Scheiding Str / Theo's Place / Proes and Andries
  • Various Embassies
  • HSRC
  • Department of Environmental Affairs
  • Countless private collections throughout South Africa, Europe and America
  • Gauteng Legislature
  • AIDS Awareness Programme - Department of Health: 75m mural at Belle Ombre Station, Pretoria
  • CSIR
  • European Union Delegation in South Africa

  • 2003 Currently selling Through - University of Pretoria, Unisa, Private sales, and Arts Association Pretoria