Yiull Damaso is well known for his multiple Nelson Mandela portrait series. The first to stir controversy was the ‘Dreaded Madiba’ and the most noteworthy was his critically acclaimed work titled ‘The Night Watch!’ which was exhibited at Constitution Hill.
Much of Yiull’s early work was created in public spaces. He was commissioned for murals in Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and San Francisco and in 2000, Yiull was named South Africa’s top muralist by art critic Hazel Friedman of the Cape Argus.
Since then Yiull has shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions across the country, including at the Oudtshoorn Arts Festival and The Fridge in Braamfontein. In 2011, his solo show at Constitution Hill was opened by Professor Pitika Ntuli showcasing “The Night Watch!”. In 2012 Yiull completed a three-month residency at Vladimir Tretchikoff’s old studio, Light from Africa – Art in the Forest, in Cape Town.
With Nelson Mandela as his muse for many years, Yiull has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, BBC, CNN and was the focus of three documentaries: German TV, Wits Film School and University of Tshwane Art & Film School.
His work features prominently in the private collections of South African moguls Douw Steyn and Bill Du Toit, among others. He has been commissioned for a range of works by The One and Only Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai, the Royal Livingston Hotel in Zambia, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Smirnoff, Pirelli, Swatch and Elliot Mobility.
Yiull’s recent work features his own rusting technique, which consists of iron and copper filings suspended in an acrylic medium and washed with various acids to create a rusting effect on canvas and other mediums. He has often used this process to add to the social commentary his work speaks of. The rust works are visually appealing, yet on closer inspection are made up of decaying minerals. Yiull is using this technique in both his current body of work as commentary of the underlying rot of bureaucratic systems in the world.
From 2013-2018, Yiull was working, curating and hosting exhibitions from his own studio in Craighall Park, Johannesburg, with artists Gordon Froud, George Holloway, John Vlismas , Loyiso Mkize, Lekau Matsena, Zapiro, Dov Fedlar and Derek Bauer, to name a few.
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