Shako is of similar age to me and also has 2 children. Although we come from very different back grounds, we share many interests. My life has been far easier than my friends life however. Shako is a bent metal sculpture , he creates mystic animals out of everyday scraps of metal. When i first set eyes on a horse Sculpted by Shako - I was completely spell bound. it was like something i had never seen before. a cross between a hyena, part wildebeast and bits of horse. I liked it and bought the sculpture immediately, this was the first time i had ever purchased sculpture. It was also the first of many commissions my studio gave to this very talented artist - Surprise Shako Mkhize.
Shako has the rare artistic ability to follow his own artistic instinct. He sits in my library of art books and has no knowledge of the fellow artists centimeters from his grasp. He is completely unaffected and unaware of any view of art other than from his own personal experience. - this very fact makes him a very rare artist growing in a unique vacuum. Unfettered by this worlds concept of what an artist should be . He geniunely does not know who Picasso is and is completely unaware of the concept that is western art. I am scared to familiarise him with concepts in fear of making him a carbon copy of every other bloody artist that aspires to be like all the masters of old. I feel i should not mould him into everyone else, his geniune, raw unfetered talent needs to shine through individualy. Shako strikes me as someone who could be good at whatever he applies his mind to. He is a humble man with the quite assured mannerisms of a master craftsman.
I enjoy commissioning him with animals he is not familiar with. I have always been completely surprised at the end result. Shako creates mystical frogs, chameleons, cats, leopards ,Nautilus shells , a wildebeest , eagle heads and many horses. it is intriguing to note not 1 of Shakos 10 horses i have commissioned looks the same - they are all completely different - the sign of an artist not a technician.
His most ambitious work to date has been to create an eagle from disused washing machine parts. In true Shako style he has managed to transform his creation into a part griffin, part bat and bits of an eagle. Almost gothic - (from a man who has never seen gothic sculpture.)
the eagle is a large sculpture with each feather represented. This is very rare in an artist with Shako's background, which is normally not to get involved with intricate detailing. (for myself , viking art is incredibly detailed and its to this detail i elude.)
Like myself Shako also suffers from asthma. I have just received a completely devastating call from a relative of Shako's, to say my friend Shako has passed away. At first i thought it impossible, however he explained Shako had been suffering badly of late and his asthma eventually got the better of him. As i know what its like to breathe through a tiny straw, i can only express my complete and utter sorrow of the passing of such a great man. What overwhelmed me even more is the fact that Shako wanted me to know he was going. I feel privileged to be in his thoughts at the time of his struggling to hang onto life. I feel an overwhelming sence of sadness that i could not say goodbye to my friend in the conventional sense, Shako was not a conventional man. So i feel humbled by the natural passing of life - however unfair it may seem.
My office is surrounded with Shako's sculptures and one day i will hold an exhibition in honour of this great man - none of the pieces will be for sale as they are all an integral part of my life. But i will honour a truelly talented artist - who was able to express himself unfeterred by this artistic worlds rhetoric.
I have never met Shako's family - as they are based in the northern province and i am in Cape Town. My sympathy goes out to your family Shako and one day i will get to meet your kin. i will tell them what a talented artist Surprise Shako Mkhize was. I will tell them of your talent and your energy which this world will sorely miss.
Surprise Shako Mkhize
born - 20/02/1972 - died - first half of 2008