Winston Churchill Masakeng Saoli was born on 3 January 1950 in the town of Acornhoek, Eastern Transvaal, now known as Mpumalanga Province. He was the second of six children, the son of the Reverend Russell Saoli. As a child, he attended the Arthurseat Lower Primary School, where his father was headmaster. When his family moved to Soweto in 1963, Saoli enrolled at the Morris Isaacson School in Moroka.
In 1971, Hart described and praised Saoli’s ‘creative spontaneity’ and ‘sensitivity of touch’. The same year, Saoli exhibited with Leonard Matsoso and Cyprian Shilakoe at Preston in the United Kingdom (UK). He was one of four artists selected to design for the Graphic Club of South Africa, and was asked to design the cover of the music album, Peace, by jazz musician Dollar Brand. In June 1972, Rand Daily Mail art writer H.E. Winder called Saoli’s fifth Goodman Gallery show ‘one of the most important exhibitions by African artists’, and commented on the artist’s use of religious symbolism and literary style.
Marty G recalls ...
"Saoli was one of the most intelligent human beings I have ever had the pleasure and privilege to meet. I soon realized why even the oldest guys in the Soweto School of Art group referred to him as the master when they spoke about him. Saoli could compose his extraordinary works crossing over seamlessly from one medium to the next, a master in all. His abstract compositions created in the late 70's through the late 80's has a hidden 3D world contained in the composition of each artwork. He often said to me; Martin, there is another world inside these paintings, one I can only see when I cross over into it when I paint them. Working with, and having had the experience of the strange nature of thoughts that the bohemian creatures called fine artists have, I never seriously explored his statement. In 2016 I purchased a 3D television and after watching a 3D movie, I began browsing through my online art portfolio, not realizing I still had the 3D glasses on. Suddenly as I browsed my Saoli collection I found myself inside those hidden worlds he told me about. The experience caught me completely off-gaurd as I explored Saoli's 3D realities. What is truly astonishing about these paintings, is that at the time of their creation in the 70's & 80's ... there were no 3D capable devices or technology available. My dear friend Saoli, did cross over into other dimensions from where he brought back magnificent artworks. I consider him the most talented and accomplished artist I have ever known, and in time, so will the rest of the world. ~ Martin G. Britz