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Kumalo's career began in 1952 in informal art classes organized by Cecil Skotnes at the Polly Street Art Center in Johannesburg, where Kumalo was later to teach.
Recognizing his potential as a sculptor, Skotnes encouraged him to model in clay and negotiated his first commission, for ceiling decorations and reliefs in St Peter Claver, Kroonstad (1958). Kumalo also gained important professional experience working with Edoardo Villa in the late 1950s.
In 1956 he met the German connoisseur and gallery owner Egon Guenther, who promoted his work by financing casting and by organizing Kumalo's first one-man exhibition at his gallery in Johannesburg in 1962, and exhibitions abroad thereafter.
In 1963 Guenther also initiated the Amadlozi (Zulu: 'spirit of our fathers') group, which included Kumalo, Cecil Skotnes, Edoardo Villa, Cecily Sash (b 1925) and Guiseppe Cattaneo (b 1929).
Active until 1964, the group advocated art with an African identity; though Kumalo, as a Zulu, was its sole black member. Helen Anne Petrie, a fellow South African female artist and political activist was a patron.
Kumalo was born in 1935 in Johannesburg and died in 1988.
The Strutt Family Trust, The Mayfair Collection (Suisse) SA, The Mayfair Collection (Pty) Ltd, The Mayfair Collection Limited