On 5 April 2017, the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award, now in its third year, announced the Award winner and top five category finalists at the launch of the Award exhibition at Lizamore & Associates Gallery, Rosebank, Johannesburg.
Each of these artists won a cash prize along with the opportunity to have their work showcased on taxis on national routes for a period of six months. The overall winner, Banele Khoza, was selected not just for excellence in his artwork and his design, but for his ability to carry his concept via both platforms fluidly. The five category finalists, Jabo Nkomo, Duma Mtimkulu, Mashudu Nevhutalu, Lebohang Kganye and Mpho Mokgadi were chosen on the same grounds, but according to the following categories:
- Two dimensional artworks – won by Mashudu Nevhutalu (This includes drawing, painting, collage, photography any work whose final presentation is in a 2D format.)
- Three dimensional works – won by Duma Mtimkulu (This includes work whose final presentation is in 3D format such as sculpture and installation. This could include a virtual 3D manifestation- i.e. sculpture, virtual reality, animation.)
- Multiples won by Lebohang Kganye (This includes works whose production is editioned- traditional printmaking, photography, editioned sculpture etc.)
- Mixed Media won by Jabo Nkomo (This includes works of any manifestation that include mixed media in its final presentation such as collage, found object works and works made up of several media and materials.)
- Digital/Multimedia won by Mpho Mokgadi (This includes works whose final manifestation is digital in nature. This could include digital in process or digital in the final presentation.)
Artists were selected through a two-phase blind judging process, from more than 160 entries. The first phase, a digital selection to identify the top 50 entries that were brought to Johannesburg for the final judging, was headed by Director of VANSA (Visual Art Network of South Africa), Molemo Moiloa. Thereafter judges Maria McCloy, Rolihlahla Mhlanga and Gordon Froud selected the top thirty works as well as the five category finalists and overall Award winner. The judges focused on the combination of their artwork, decal design and conceptual narrative. Says Froud about the finalists:
“The thematic considerations showed the diversity of our country, with close to home topics like water shortages and other social and even political statements on the one hand and then to the fun, funky, youthful exuberance that spills out of the urban taxi environment”
This innovative award merges visual art, design and taxis. The award asks entrants to create an artwork in conversation with a brief, and then interpret this into a design for a decal that would wrap a minibus taxi. “This helps to promote local art value chains,” says the SA Taxi Foundation Director, Lishani Letchmiah. “And, because most minibus taxi commuters are posting pictures and comments about the vibrant works of art on the selected minibus taxis, the impact of the art reaches steadily deeper into society.”
1. Banele Khoza: Award Winner
Through his winning work, Banele Khoza comments on the complexities of so-called “African identity”. “Being called African or identifying as African is a problematic identity, as Africans don’t share the same reality – there’s a vast difference between the countries within Africa. The internet has blanketed the world and offers one a global perspective. So, identifying as anything has become a choice” the artist states. Born in Swaziland in 1994, Banele Khoza moved to Johannesburg in 2008 to complete high school. He went on to complete a B Tech in Fine Art at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in 2012.Khoza has been exhibiting since 2011 in group exhibitions in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town; has been showcased at the Turbine Art Fair and Cape Town Art Fair; and recently on the AKAA international art fair in Paris. He has also been a finalist on the Barclays L’Atelier and SA Taxi Foundation Art Award (2015 and 2016). He currently works from his studio in Pretoria and is the Drawing and Fine Art Lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology.
2. Lebohang Kganye Finalist: Multiples
The nailcutter by Lebohang Kganye is informed by the artist’s family photographs. “This image is an excavation of my family history, via my own family album. Sometimes we rely on the family photo album to understand a family, and what results is a constructed grouping of images. Through this exploration, I became an outsider trying to construct an archive, rearranging images to complete a story” she explains. Kganye was born in 1990 in Katlehong. She lives and works in Johannesburg. Kganye began her photography studies in 2009 at the Market Photo Workshop and completed the Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. Kganye has since participated in photography masterclasses and group exhibitions locally and internationally. Kganye was the recipient of the Tierney Fellowship Award in 2012, leading to her solo exhibition Ke Lefa Laka. She was also awarded the Jury Prize at the Bamako Encounters Biennale of African Photography in 2015.
3. Mpho Mokgadi Finalist: Digital/Multimedia
Sanlam Building forms part of Mpho Mokgadi photographic series titled In Situ. In Situ reaects on the contemporary state of key architectural structures in Johannesburg’s inner city-spaces, a place where everyone meets for a better living. Mokgadi states: “When travelling by taxi inside the Johannesburg city one cannot ignore the beautiful structures that surround us. Putting the images on the taxi is an awareness of how beautiful Johannesburg is to the public.” Born in 1988 Mpho Mokgadi grew up in Pretoria before moving to Johannesburg to complete the Advanced Programme in Photography at the Market Photo Workshop. Mokgadi’s was awarded second runner up in the Pretoria News and Nikon South Africa competition in 2012. Focusing on people and spaces, Mokgadi’s work has been published in various online art publications such as African Photography Network, Dynamic Africa and Between10and5. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including African Film Collective at Exposure Gallery (2012) in Johannesburg, the Joburg Fringe (2015), and New Black and White Photography; (2013) and THATARTFAIR (2015) in Cape Town.
4. Duma Mtimkulu: Finalist: Three Dimensional Work
Duma Mtimkulu’s ceramic work, Young Man, comments on children growing up with absent fathers and child headed households in local communities. In the latter, the older child must take the responsibility of being a parent and look after his or her siblings. “As an artist, I feel the need to talk about this issue that is still occuring now. It is a way of self-expression and healing” Mitumkulu comments. Duma Mtimkulu was born in Free State in 1994 and moved to the Eastrand when he was still young. In 2014, he enrolled at Tshwane University of Technology for Fine and Applied Arts where he is currently completing his Btech in Fine and Applied Arts, specializing in Ceramics.
5. Mashudu Nevhutalu Finalist: Two Dimensional Work
“Dealing with nostalgia in my work, the photographs that I use as reference are often quite mundane in their original format. However, there is always something that stands and draws me closer” says Mashudu Nevhutalu. Person of Colour by Nevhutalu is taken from the phrase “People of colour”, a phrase often used to describe people who are non-white or not of European descent. This phrase alludes to the work in a literal sense, referring to the use of colour in the work, defining all South Africans as vibrant and jovial people. Mashudu Nevhutalu was born in Auckland Park, Johannesburg in 1992. The bulk of his art skills in painting and printmaking were received at the Tshwane University of Technology (2011), where he completed his Honours Degree in 2014. He was selected for the 2014 the Sasol New Signatures Competition. In 2015, he participated in a group exhibition, Young Collectors, curated by Fried Contemporary Gallery. In 2016, he participated in the #Selfe group exhibition at the Lizamore & Associates Gallery. In the same year, Nevhutalu received a Merit Award for his participation in the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award competition.
6. Jabu Nkomo Finalist: Mixed Media
“Literally and figuratively we travel… ceaselessly up and down and back and forth, searching… uncovering our routes towards our destinations, and discovering who we truly are. This journey considers the mysteries of my voyage and the commuters I encounter.” The commuters in Overload: Let’s Go by Jabu Nkomo are unceremoniously condensed to suggest that they share something in common. The artist used bright warm colours as contrast to the emotive urge that boils inside as they travel in the taxi. It explores the unforgiving realities that the working class encounters almost daily. Jabu Nkomo was born on 23 May 1971 in Soweto, where he still lives and works as a full-time painter and freelance illustrator/graphic designer. In 1993, he enrolled to study Fine Arts at Manu-Pelmama Academy (currently Soweto West Gauteng College), studying drawing and painting, while majoring in the Art History. Nkomo pursued printmaking with the Artist Proof Studio under Kim Berman in 1995. In 2016 he was selected as a winner of the of the JPC Council Chambers Totems competition.