Our nation’s beautiful heart is the pulse of this man’s paintbrush


Tyrone Appollis’s art has always been about people, and during Apartheid it reflected the despair of a mistreated nation. Artistic creation is to him as much a responsibility as it is a gift. But Appollis has noticed a curious pattern emerging in his more recent work. There’s lightness creeping into it.

Born in 1957 and a painter by the late 70s, Appollis has experienced both South Africa’s trials and triumphs. He says that colour is the heartbeat of a nation, the revelation of its health. And he can always tell how his motherland is feeling by the tone of her features in his art. He’s connected to her through shared experience. The presence of brilliant colours in his work of late is akin to his hopeful view of the country: “It’s the best place on the planet.”

While Appollis’s art reflects the state of South Africa, he also believes that it can change the world around him. The Cape Flats where he lives is an area alive with music, dancing, and that heart-revealing colour that this artist is after. So he paints it, to show people the best of it. To him this place is as vibrant as its music, excitingly unpredictable and inspiring. He’s a painter from the people and of the people, creating work driven towards people. And today his work tells the colourful narrative of South Africa overcoming.