Karel Nel was born in 1955, in Pietermaritzburg,South Africa. He studied Fine Art at the Universityof the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, St Martinís School of Art, London and the University of California, Berkeley (Fulbright Placement 1988-89). He now lives and works in Johannesburg and is Associate Professor at the School of Arts,University of the Witwatersrand.Nel has over many years been interested in the interface between art and science and thisongoing investigation has led to his inclusion inthe COSMOS project as artist-in-residence.
Nel is also a respected collector of African, Asian and Oceanic art with a particular interest in sacred art and how the values of society are encoded in the art that they produce. He has also made a sizeable collection of both African and Oceanic traditional currencies, which are on loan to the Nedbank Headquarters in Sandton.
He has expertise in southern African art and advises and consults with museums in South Africa, New York, London and Paris. He hasalso been part of curatorial teams for major international exhibitions on early Zulu, Tsonga and Shangaan art, and has contributed to numerous publications on this material.