Michael Selekane was born during the politically charged 1980s. He was born on the 25th of July 1986 in Uitvlag, a rural village based in Mpumalanga (“the place where the sun rises”). At birth, Michael was abandoned by his biological father who was made known to him only recently. His sudden introduction to his biological father was traumatic – often reflected in his work. Shortly after his birth, Michael was left in the care of his grandmother (“Gogo”) and uncles when his mother left Mpumalanga to seek domestic employment opportunities in Pretoria.
By 1991, Michael was residing in Mabopane and due to the crippled education system and the intense poverty within this Northwest province his talent never received the nurturing it needed. His battle to survive in these conditions continues to haunt him. His first encounter with the arts came during his primary year school through an art competition. During his 6th grade Michael was chosen as one of the top ten students in an art competition. It was only later during the latter part of secondary schooling where Selekane began to cultivate his artistic skills via the generous assistance of a Zimbabwean artist who introduced Michael to the basics of landscape drawing.
Michael matriculated (with exemption) from Setumokhiba High School in 2006. In 2007 whilst working as a tracing agent for a debt collection service, he was introduced by a fellow art lover, Thabo Pitso, to the Tshwaraganang Arts School in Mabopane. where Michael was exposed to various forms of visual art and it was then when he realised he had fallen in love with the oil paint medium and creating works of art by using mixed materials. The Ifa Lethu Foundation was planning to host art entrepreneurial training and development programmes, funded by Ausaid, at the art centre during the June 2007 vacation. Michael was fortunate to be one of those few selected to participate in the workshops after a rigorous selection process. So began Michael’s journey with the Ifa Lethu Foundation which has continued to nurture and grow his talent in this country and abroad.
In 2007 Michael exhibited his artworks at BHP Billiton’s head office in Johannesburg. Recognising the value of his skills, the latter agreed to auction his works at high end corporate events.
Michael was determined to further his passion for art. In 2008 he enrolled at the Tshwane University of Technology (Faculty of Arts) (TUT). In 2009 Michael secured a tender for mural painting at the Tshwaing Crater Museum. Michael was invited by the Ifa Lethu Foundation to exhibit his artworks at the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Johannesburg. He successfully exhibited his artworks at the National Arts Festival (Grahamstown) -2009 and 2010 – where he was extremely successful. He has exhibited his artworks at various galleries in and around South Africa. He also addressed FTSE 100 CEOs in London in May 2011.
In his works, Michael clearly captures the daily lives of ordinary South Africans. His works highlight the realities of living in a democratic South Africa. Social issues are highlighted by the subject matter which focuses on our new democracy.
He is fondly referred to as “Africa’s future Picasso.”