Boyce Magandela: The warmth of blankets as subject and canvas

The latest body of work by Mitchells Plain artist Boyce Magandela celebrates the warmth, strength, power, and beauty of women and their culture.

Artist Boyce Magandela is fascinated by the changing social dynamics of his Mitchells Plain community. For some time he has enjoyed documenting the self-sufficiency of women, capturing these sentiments in his portraits of daily life.

The artworks Boyce created for the recent Assemblage group exhibition at the AVA Gallery – the culmination of Nando’s Creative Exchange, in partnership with Spier Arts Trust  – are a new departure for the artist.

Boyce painted large-scale portraits of women in traditional Xhosa and Basutho blankets. At first glance the large scale and bold, bright character of the skillfully rendered portraits creates impact. But it is the realisation that traditional blankets are both the canvas and subject matter of these works that creates deep resonance with those who have experienced these blankets as part of the fabric of their daily lives.

Boyce painted women wearing traditional Xhosa and Basotho blankets. Married women in each of these cultures traditionally cover their shoulders with these blankets, and in this instance,  the blanket as canvas represents the warmth, strength, power, and beauty of  these women.

An interesting element in these paintings is that the women featured on Basutho blankets wear Xhosa blankets around their shoulders, while the women featured on Xhosa blankets wear Basutho blankets. This is a visual reference to the shared symbolism of blanket wearing as a common cultural practice.

What is also remarkable about these artworks is that the blankets stretched like canvas on their frames have their own distinct beauty from either side of the artwork.


Speaking Out, 2017. Acrylic on blanket. 150 x 160cm.

Ntabiseng (The Basutho Queen), 2017. Acrylic on blanket. 150 x 160cm.

Homecoming, 2017. Acrylic on blanket. 144 x 132,2cm.

After Water the Shading, 2017. Acrylic on blanket. 120 x 99cm.

Thoughts of Tomorrow, 2017. Acrylic on blanket. 120 x 99cm.


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This post was made possible by Nando’s

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