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Meet the husband-and-wife team behind some of SA’s most prized art

Showing at this year’s Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Andile and Nkuthazo Alexis Dyalvane are art-world darlings and one powerhouse pair

By Piet Smedy  | February 14, 2022 | Art

When Neil Diamond said that ‘the art of love is who you share it with’ he probably didn’t realise just how accurate a sentiment it was, especially when applied to the South African art scene, which has seen many creative couples working together to create astonishing pieces. (Many of these couples in question will also be exhibiting at this year’s Investec Cape Town Art Fair. The much-loved spectacle takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, from 18 to 20 February.)

'Nkwakhwa' by Andile Dyalvane. Photograph by Stephanie Veldman_Southern Guild

One such pairing is Andile and Nkuthazo Alexis Dyalvane. ‘When we met, we used to travel by train from Retreat to Woodstock, in Cape Town,’ says Andile, who works in ceramics, about his first encounter with Nkuthazo Alexis Dyalvane, writer, audio artist and ceramicist. ‘I used to sketch on the train and one day I noticed this beauty. I found her so interesting – and attractive – but I could not get myself to speak to her. Then one day I made it easy for her to see my work, and I knew it would draw her attention. The next time we saw each other, she gave me a note with her details and asked to collaborate on a piece with me. We have since been collaborating artistically and as a couple, and we now have a family together.’

'iHlati (Forest)' by Andile Dyalvane. Photograph by Christo van der Walt_Southern Guild

‘We spotted each other on the train and we both looked artistic. Some things you just attract without words, just by our energy,’ says Nkuthazo Alexis. ‘I made the first move as I knew he wouldn’t have the courage to approach me, although he had courage in his eyes. So, I wrote him a note on a sweet wrapper, asking him for a collaboration.’

The couple has gone on to be one of South Africa’s most revered power couples in the art and culture sector, bagging a number of awards and accolades. Their deep respect for each other’s art has been one of the reasons for their phenomenal success, particularly for pieces and performances that connect modern life with traditional Xhosa practises and customs.

‘Working with him has opened my mind to exploring other mediums alongside writing,’ says Nkuthazo Alexis. ‘I now paint and illustrate. We both have a beautiful relationship with sound, leading to us experimenting with indigenous instrumentation. It’s this that keeps us connected to different types of communities, and it also influences not only my art, but my world.’

More than 98 local and international exhibitors from 20 different countries, including 17 first-time participants will form part of the 9th Investec Cape Town Art Fair. For more information, log on to Follow Investec Cape Town Art Fair on Twitter @ICTAF, Instagram @investeccapetownartfair and Facebook @ICTArtFair