Ranko Pudi

Ranko Pudi was born in 1950 in Makapanstad, north of Pretoria. As a child, Pudi often watched with admiration when his maternal grandfather David Motladi, a carpenter, was at worki and was encouraged to try his own hand at creating something out of the wood.

Coming from a poor family, Pudi’s parents were forced to send him to relatives who worked as farm labourers, where he worked as a herder unable to attend school with his cousins. The 1960s saw the Pudis relocated to Lady Selborne in search of better and more lucrative employment opportunities. Their son Ranko, 11 at the time, was with them and for the first time in his life, Pudi found himself in class. The years of being out of class and instead heading the goats had done much damage to his mental state and the youngster became involved with local gangs, taking a leadership role.

A forced removal relocated Pudi’s family to Ga-Rankua Township, just outside Pretoria, and having a much needed positive effect on Ranko’s life. Turning to Christianity, he went back to school to do grade 8, but by then he was 21 years old and much older than his classmatesiii and his attempts at more formal schooling ceased.

Pudi had turned to carving at the age of 15 with a woodcraft teacher encouraging him to produce works of art. Around this time, he also made efforts to produce landscapes making use of crayons to do so. These positive influences shaped his desire to become an artist. After he had left school Pudi sought out the company of other artists for advice. He met Nkwane and Mike Zondi who introduced him to Motshile Nthodi. Nthodi was very impressed by Pudi’s work and he helped the young man stage a one man exhibition.

While working at landscapes, Pudi also received professional advice from Michael Mmutle, another Pretoria based artist. However, for Pudi, landscapes could not compare with the satisfaction he found in ink, pencil, woodcut, charcoal, watercolour and woodpanelling. Other influences came from Picasso and the advice of Walter Battisss.

Pudi’s work includes: Air pollution 1977 (crayons and ink); After School, 1978 (charcoal); Guitarist, 1978 (charcoal); To the homeland, 1977 (woodcut); Man and woman, 1977 (masonite woodcut); Went huntin, 1979 (woodcut); Went fishing, 1979 (woodcut).

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