Pat Sithole’s latest solo exhibition, New Dispensation will be shown at the Absa Gallery from 8 July to 3 August 2018. Creative Feel has been following Sithole’s career ever since his first solo exhibition at the same Absa Gallery in 2007 and recently caught up with him to discuss his latest work and his perspective of the interleading years.
Creativity runs through Pat Sithole’s veins. He is the nephew of the renowned South African wood sculptor, the late Lucas Sithole and has been artistic all his life. He is convinced that this is something he was born with.
Sithole feels that his work has really grown over the last few years. ‘I have produced some new artwork in which I’m inspired and influenced by the daily changes and experiences that are happening in my life and in my country.’ When Creative Feel interviewed him previously, his home and studio were in the far East Rand township of KwaThema in Springs. He re-confirmed that he chooses to live there because he is intrigued by and draws inspiration from his surroundings and the constant buzz of activity going on around him.
New Dispensation is an introspective and reflexive project that focuses on the social and political conditions that many South Africans are finding themselves in. It is mostly inspired by societal changes, memories and the lived experiences that various South Africans and South African communities have and use to construct and understand their daily reality.
As an emotionally charged exhibition, New Dispensation draws on sadness, pain and joy that individuals experience in their daily lives and how these emotions motivate them to continue to strive for a better life and a better tomorrow. Drawing further on Sithole’s social surroundings, personal life and experience of the transition from one political dispensation to another, this exhibition questions notions of human endurance, emotion and position.
I’m inspired and influenced by the daily changes and experiences that are happening in my life and in my country
When asked about changes in his surroundings, Sithole talks about the many positive developments and transformations that he has experienced since 2007. He feels that the conditions in which he lives have changed drastically, although some things remain unchanged and there are still problems to be solved.
The changes that have taken place over this period, both in his surroundings and the country, have had a significant influence on Sithole’s work for his forthcoming show. This can be seen in his choice of colours for the show, which he says are chosen specifically to represent the transformation he has experienced. The colours are strong and bright, which he says represent hope and optimism. ‘In fact, we are living in a country where we are faced with many things, some of them are bad and some good, but my colours only focus on hope and development. That is why I use bright colours instead of using strong political colours.’ Sithole feels that there is more happening and that there are more opportunities now than there were in 2007. ‘I see the opportunities.’
When asked about a recurring motif in his art – a newspaper – Sithole explained, ‘That is a sort of collage. I used the newspaper because it plays a part in my life in a sense that it informs me about what is happening in my surroundings.’
When Pat Sithole is not painting in his studio in Springs, he is teaching art to children in his township at KwaThema Library in a project sponsored by the Ekurhuleni Municipality. In fact, the municipality runs the project in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture. They are involved in everything, including managing it, and he is employed to teach the children, something that he is very passionate about. Sithole is determined to use his own experience to unearth artistic talent in young people.