Mohl, John

Dinokana, Zeerust, North-West Province, 1903

Soweto, Johannesburg, Gauteng, 1985

Doreen Khama Collection, the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Pretoria Art Gallery, and private collections in Germany.


South African History Online,

JOHN KOENAKEEFE MOHL‘s father was a carpenter who sculpted objects such as chairs and mealie stampers. During his youth, Mohl began to create art by drawing with ‘pepa’ on rocks and making clay objects. Mohl later attended the Moeding Training Institute (later known as Tigerkloof Training School) where he attained a teacher’s diploma. He subsequently accompanied a German artist to South West Africa (now Namibia) where he studied painting at the Windhoek School of Art. The artist later returned to South Africa and settled in Sophiatown, where he started running art classes from his home. When Sophiatown was demolished, Mohl eventually ended up in Soweto. It was here that he began to exhibit his paintings in his garden and sell them to Soweto residents, as well as to tourists.

His desire was to paint what was known to him, therefore township scenes were often the theme of his works. His preferred medium was oil paint and his paintings often depicted panoramic vistas with atmospheric qualities. Mohl sometimes worked in an impressionistic style, capturing the various moods of township landscape; early morning, Mohl’s rainy scenes and shadows of approaching night and early dusk were his favourite scenes.

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