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Des Khoury - South African Artist

Des Khoury ~ South African Artist & Sculptor

Des Khoury, founder of Theta Studios, was an internationally acclaimed artist, composer and sculptor
"My work is valueless to me if it does not help others," he said. Des produced a series of sculptures, some as a tribute to one of his greatest inspirations - Nelson Mandela, to raise money for various local charities, including The Way to Happiness.

Self taught as a sculptor, Des epitomised everything that is inspiring about Africa and enjoyed remarkable success, noted primarily for the excitement and detail with which he endowed his works, as well as his uncanny eye for capturing the spirit of his subjects.

Before finding fame as a sculptor, Des was a successful composer, his work having been used in TV dramas, talk shows and much more. As a musician, Des toured with the Julian Laxton Band and founded the highly-successful jazz-fusion group, Theta, in the late 1970s.

"One Team One Nation" Sculpture


Using this fame, in 1995 Des sculpted a limited edition representation of the 1995 Rugby World Cup win, called "One Team One Nation". It depicts the captain of the rugby team, Francois Pienaar holding the Web Ellis cup.

This sculpture was used for various charitable causes: for instance, SARFU endorsed and used one to support the very effective Narconon drug rehabilitation programme as well as the Rugby Development Fund.

"Madiba Magic" Sculpture


Most famously, Des produced a trilogy of Nelson Mandela statues starting with ‘Madiba Magic’, inspired by South Africa’s peaceful transition to democracy.

For Des this epochal event was the beginning of the realisation of a prediction by humanitarian and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard 30 years earlier, that "from Southern Africa will spring the next great civilization on this planet…" and inspired by Nelson Mandela’s work with children, his attitude and expression of joy towards our young achievers.

His dance, the "Madiba Jive", symbolized for the artist this joy, which itself is inspiring and is what communicates the "Madiba Magic" that he was so well known for. When Des felt he had captured this quality and Madiba's spirit of excitement, he felt the piece was complete as he had attained the effect he wanted to communicate.

The full edition of 50 pieces was endorsed and licensed by the Nelson Mandela Millennium Fund (as the Nelson Mandela 80th Birthday Company) in 1998 for Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday celebrations. Of the 50 "Madiba Magic" limited edition pieces, 17 have been acquired including one by Nelson Mandela. 33 of the "Madiba Magic" limited editions remain to be sold.

"Thunder in Africa" Sculpture


The second was Des’ most treasured assignment, ‘Thunder in Africa’. This work commemorated the historic heavyweight championship fight between Lennox Lewis and Hasim Rahman at Carnival City in April 2001, and depicting Mandela as a young boxer. Des presented it to Lewis, Rahman and Mandela.

In the artist's own words: "I am privileged to be able to have witnessed Madiba's work, and feel honoured to have contributed to the greatest boxing event on the African continent which truly caused a thunder in Africa. Rather than just a boxer, I see Nelson Mandela as having delivered that punch for freedom, which is what this sculpture is about."

This statuette is a cast of the original mould of "Thunder in Africa", sculpted by South African artist Des Khoury. The breaking of this mould was by Lenox Lewis and witnessed by international press and T.V. on 20 April 2001 at the official weigh-in. This limited edition of 18 including 3 artist's proofs were personally endorsed by Nelson Mandela. All 18 have been acquired including one to Nelson Mandela, one to Lenox Lewis, and one to Hasim Rahman, and are in the collector's market.

"Warriors of Peace" Sculpture


Rounding off the trilogy of Mandela pieces was a depiction of Mandela as a Warrior for Peace alongside arguably the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. "Warriors of Peace" depicts Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali in a victory pose.

Nelson Mandela has been a continuous inspiration to millions of people around the world, having defied reason, logic and all expectations to free a nation that was destined for internal conflict. By example he brought relief to the disadvantaged, and dignity and respect where there was conflict and suppression.

Muhammad Ali - in the artist's mind is the greatest boxer of all time - said about his life after boxing that his most important job now was trying to teach people to treat each other with dignity and respect. He is still held in awe by boxers and fans around the world, and he still continues to inspire greatness, dignity and respect.

This statue is part of a limited edition of 44 cold-cast bronze casts and come with certification. It was cast from the original mould which will be broken beyond repair once all are cast. 6 out of 44 have been acquired including one by Nelson Mandela. 38 of the "Warriors of Peace" limited edition remain to be sold.
Des sadly passed away on 9 September 2010 at the age of 60 due to a terminal physical condition. He handed over the running of his studio to his wife Kareen. He has spent his life working directly and indirectly through his art, on humanitarian projects. It has always been his wish to create a vehicle to channel his life’s work towards good causes.

For more information about South African artist Des Khoury and his works, please contact Kareen Khoury.
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