Karel Nel studied at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London and the University of California at Berkeley (on a Fulbright Scholarship from 1988 – 1989). Nel now lives in Johannesburg and is an Associate Professor at the Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand, where he began his studies in fine art.
Nel is a respected collector of African, Asian and Oceanic art with a particular interest in currencies. He is considered an expert in southern African art and advises and consults museums in South Africa, New York, London and Paris. He has also been part of various curatorial teams for major international exhibitions on early Zulu, Tsonga and Shangaan art and has contributed to numerous publications on this material. Over many years Nel has been interested in the interface between art and science, and his investigations have led to his inclusion in the COSMOS project, as artist- in-residence, involving more than a hundred scientists around the world charged with mapping a two-degree square area of the sky.