Patrick Holo is the son of Jo Holo, a pianist in the Á¢Â€Â˜Folk QuartetÁ¢'. As a child Holo built toys made out of the resources he found, which included cars, trains, and buses with tin-wheels, held together with long wires were one of his favourites. Holo grew up in Cape Town, and completed standard nine at Langabuya High School.
At the age of 23, he began working at the Paarl Branch of OK Bazaars, and worked as a machine operator for Paarl Textiles until he became a full-time artist in 1974. In 1976, he joined the Community Arts Project in Woodstock, and continued to communicate the distress felt by his people, who were subjugated by apartheid policies. This subjugation was accentuated by the oppression of student protests in Soweto which occurred during the same year. At the time he worked with artist such as Bongani Shangi and Hamilton Budaza, and together they explored sculpting and graphics techniques.
In 1977, Holo met Cecil Skotnes, who had been the director of the Polly Street Art Centre in Johannesburg. The Centre had provided artists with guidance, a place to work and materials to work with. The Centre had also built a community that became an epicentre of art as a struggle against apartheid. Skotnes therefore encouraged Patrick and his brother Sydney to create an art school for children. The Holo brothers therefore made a proposition to the Divisional Council, who granted them permission to use an old farmhouse in Nyanga.
The Nyanga Art Centre was then created in 1978, where Patrick taught graphics and sculpture. Other courses offered at this art centre were glass blowing and pottery. Skotnes visited and mentored the project, despite the risks of entering the area at this time. The centre educated many prominent artists, such as Billy Mandindi.
The centre struggled financially, however, Holo still managed to continue working on his linocuts. He expressed the suffering of unemployment and misery, of injustice, oppression, and disenfranchisement of the Xhosa people during apartheid. He remained a teacher at the art centre until 1981, when the Italian Consulate granted him a scholarship to study in Perugia, Italy for a year. During this time he travelled to Nicolo Baldo’s house in Rome.
In 1982, Patrick returned to Cape Town to his workshop at Nyanga Art Centre. Although the centre had been neglected, artists managed to reunite and begin working on other projects. Patrick, Sydney and Velile Soha taught children the skills of linocut, sculpture, and graphic art, and Deneth Giladile taught music. However, the centre’s lack of fund soon lead to its demise as artists slowly began to leave. The centre was later destroyed in 1990.
In 1985, Patrick, Sydney, Hamilton Budaza, Wizard, and Lionel Abrahams along with six artists from the Polly Street Centre (including Sydney Kumalo, Ezrahein, Mtsoso and Cepral) held an exhibition at The Gowlett Gallery. Some of their work was bought by The National Gallery and the exhibition was therefore considered a success. A second exhibition was later held at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town.
In 1991, Patrick began to sell his linocuts in St. Georges Street Mall. At times he struggled financially, and sometimes he was not even being able to afford the materials to continue his work. In addition, he had contracted TB, which severally affected his productivity over the next ten years.
However, Patrick was commissioned by Truworths to do two murals, and Zolile Calana from Kwela Books commissioned Patrick to make illustrations for the Xhosa proverbs in 2001. He was later invited to exhibit them at The Cape Gallery in the exhibition entitled “Movement”.
Holo has also continued to participate in exhibitions such as “Encompass” at the Cape Gallery, and has illustrated books such as ‘I Cry Justice' by Dr. John de Cruce.