Being artistically untrained, Titus Matiyane, an artist of Attridgeville outside Pretoria, works from commercial and Google maps, as well as from his imagination in his rendering of panoramas of cities and the surrounding rural areas. The panoramas, which he has been making since 1990, create the impression that the artist has intimate knowledge of the cities and has observed them aerially, whilst in fact he only flew for the first time in 1998 and works from maps that are commercially available. Matiyane has never picked up the mannerisms of institutional art and training, nor has he understood its mechanisms of approval.
His first patrons were his school friends. Later, his singular skill in procuring and working in scrap metal led to his work being featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Despite this attention, he only came to the attention of art critics when his two-metre long model of a British Airways Concorde was included on the BMW sponsored Tributaries exhibition which toured West Germany.
Matiyane completed a world tour of his work with an exhibition entitled Cities of the World, which travelled from December 2007 in Delft, The Netherlands, to Aedesland in Berlin in 2008 and from there to the National Museum of Mali in Bamako.
2014, Certificate of Excellence, awarded by Mr Nathi Mthetwa, Minister of Arts and Culture
1999, Kempton Park Tembisa Metropolitan Local Council. Panorama of London. Landscape of Gauteng. Top100 Fine arts award
1994, Bertrams V-O Art of Africa Award
Recent major exhibitions
2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Japanese Pavillion
2015, Titus Matiyane's panoramas of the BRICS Capitals, UJ Gallery, Johannesburg (curator: Elfriede Dreyer)
2014, Cool Capital Biennale (curators: Elfriede Dreyer and Adele Adendorff. Panorama of Pretoria: Mamelodi to Soweto
2014, Reserve Bank, Cool Capital Biennale exhibition. Panorama of Pretoria: Mamelodi to Soweto
2013, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Artesis University College, Antwerp. Group exhibition, Nomad bodies curated by Elfriede Dreyer
2012, Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg. Panorama of Polokwane to Sasolburg
2012, Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria. Group exhibition, Me 3, curated by Elfriede Dreyer
2011, La Société générale, Casablanca, Morocco. Cities of the world exhibition and Panorama of Western Cape. Curated by Annemieke de Klerk
2010, Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria. Group exhibition, Cities in transition, with Eric Duplan and Lucas Thobejane, curated by Elfriede Dreyer
2010, Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art. Panorama of Lille
2010, Big 5 Festival, Teater aan het Spuy, The Hague. Panoramas of Cape Town, Berlin, Tanzania, Mali, Dubai, Johannesburg, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu Natal. Curated by Annemieke de Klerk
Collections and Commissions
Panorama of South Africa (2012). Department of Tourism, Pretoria
Panorama of Southerm France (2008). Private collection
Panorama of Hong Kong (2008). Private collection
Panorama of Western Cape (2007). Collection: Iziko National Gallery
Panoramic view of the city centre of Pretoria from Muckleneukrant, Pretoria (2006). W & J van Zyl Commission
Panorama of Western Cape (2007). Collection Iziko National Gallery
Pretoria from Attridgeville to Mamelodi (2003). Collection: Spier Wine Estate
Panorama of Gauteng (2001). Collection: Melville Art Centre
Panorama of the Netherlands: Rotterdam to Amsterdam (2000). Private collection. Mentioned in Images of Metal: Post War Sculptures and Assemblages in South Africa, by Prof Liz Rankin
Panorama of Attridgeville (1999). Collection: The Bang Gallery
Panorama of Pretoria (1996). Collection: Groundswell Gallery, London
Panorama of Grahamstown (1995). Collection: WITS University
Panorama of Pretoria (city only) (1995). Collection: National Cultural History Museum
Panorama of Witwatersrand (1992). Collection: Museum Africa
Panorama of Attridgeville (1990). Collection: University of Cape Town
Panorama of Western Cape (1985). Collection: Market Gallery
Annemieke de Klerk, Melinda Silverman, Stephen Hobbs, Wytze Patijn, 2007. Catalogue for the exhibition, Titus Matiyane: Cities of the World. Afdeling Bouwkunde, Technische Hogeschool Delft. 010 Publishers. Published for the purposes of the Cities of the World travelling exhibition, 2007- 2008 and the manifestation African Perspectives held December 6-8,2007, both commissioned by the Faculty of Architecture of Delft University of Technology.
Makorakora: Shaping wire into vehicles. 1985. SA Today. Article featuring photograph of model of spacecraft “Challenger” made by artist.
Rankin, E. 1994. Images of metal: Post-war sculptures and Assemblages in South Africa. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.
Matiyane has always been interested in nationhood and the power relations embedded in governments and partnerships and as artist he aligns himself with such networks. He is fascinated by the political muscle and the commercial and cultural machinery at work in large cities, shrouded by their outward façades and surface maps. Although the artist generally presents wide panoramas of cities, thus ‘walking’ multi-viewpoint compositions, often he creates panopticon-like designs in which he functions as a kind of ‘watchman’ surveying the city from a single point of observation – his own. In the late eighteenth century, the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham coined the idea of the panopticon as a particular type of institutional building design that could allow surveillance by a single watchman in such a way that the entire institution could be surveyed from a single angle. The term ‘panopticon’ has been derived from Panoptes in Greek mythology that was a giant with a hundred eyes and known as a very efficient watchman. Bentham's architectural designs were very much aimed at the design of institutions such as prisons, for instance, or corporate environments, where inmates or workers could be surveyed without them realising it. Bentham’s ideas acted as precursor to twentieth-century technology such as closed-circuit television (CCTV).
As the artist ‘controlling’ the view of the city, Matiyane subjectively re-designs and re-presents it according to his own interpretation and impression gleaned from the limited information about the city at his disposal. The artist ‘travels’ the world as a kind of global flâneur through gazing at the imagery of cities and city maps obtained from the Internet, stationary shops and travel programmes on television. Conceptually he claims familiarity with and ownership of these spaces, although his source material is seldom derived from photographs of actual visits to the various locations. As such, he sets up a kind of psychogeographical relationship with the cities of the world, a correlation that mostly presents space, place and locality inaccurately and dependent on own interpretation.