A friend and I attended the Venice Art Walk in May and saw many amazing artists, not to mention some pretty impressive studio spaces and apartments. One artist in particular stuck with me from the moment I spotted his piece in the silent auction. I made a note to specifically visit his studio along our walk, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Fortune Sitole grew up in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg, South Africa, sketching various villagers and their lives as he watched them around him. From the age of 12, Sitole began teaching himself different mediums and eventually moved to Cape Town to pursue his art career.

He took a job as a security guard during the day and worked on his art at night and on weekends. He would visit his friends in townships and sketch the scenes as he saw them, telling them that he preferred this approach above photos because it brings more truth and life to the picture.

Because the people in the shantytowns use anything they can find to construct their homes, Sitole uses many different found materials to construct his art. The buildings in the scenes are created from a mixture of oil paint, cut soda cans and pieces of corrugated metal sheeting and are set against vividly colored sunsets and night skies.

This brings an amazing three-dimensional effect to his paintings. It’s almost as if you can look down the busy streets occupied by mothers hanging out laundry on the lines and into the windows and lives of the people he’s portraying.

Sitole hopes that by painting these pictures he can foster and awareness of the poverty that affects millions around the world. He creates his works as homage to his family, friends and ancestors back in the shantytowns in black South African townships.

These works of art carry a definite message in a very beautiful and moving way. When you look into any of Sitole’s paintings, you can feel all of the emotions that go into it, and all of the lives that he depicts. It’s art with a message that’s heard loud and clear.

For more information, visit www.fortunesgallery.com.