Monographs on African Artists an Annotated Bibliography
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Mgudlandlu, Gladys Nomfanekiso, 1917-1979

Miles, Elza. Nomfanekiso who paints at night: the art of Gladys Mgudlandlu. Vlaeburg, South Africa: Fernwood Press in association with Johannesburg Art Gallery, 2002. 95pp. illus. (pt. color)., bibliog. (pp. 91-93). ND1096.M48M55 2002 AFA. OCLC 52458646.

Gladys Mgudlandlu was an art teacher who also had a remarkably successful career as a painter, despite the severe limitations of being black in South Africa under apartheid. Primarily self-taught -- her grandmother showed her mural painting in the Fingo tradition -- Mgudlandlu developed an expressionistic, naive style of painting using broad strokes and bold colors. She began exhibiting her work in the early 1960s and received wide press coverage which was unusual for a black woman at that time. Her work was much in demand, perhaps because of its naive style (like Grandma Moses to whom she was compared). Landscapes, cityscapes, Xhosa traditional life, animals, especially birds, are her common subject matter. Her personal life was less glamorous, always something of a struggle, living in a cottage in Guguletu township outside of Cape Town. Because she had to teach during the day, she painted at night always by paraffin lamp, which she preferred to electric light -- hence, her nickname Nomfanekiso, “she who paints at night.” Following a car accident in 1971, she stopped painting and died in poverty in 1979.

Reviewed by Marion Arnold in De Arte (Pretoria) no. 69, 2004, pages 104-106.