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SPOTLIGHT | Visual artist Lehlogonolo Mashaba

Lehlogonolo Mashaba is a Kwa-Thema-born artist who lives and works in Johannesburg. In his drawings and prints, Mashaba centres thought as the origin of life. In this way, he employs a confluence of texts, forms and lines in his work to construct figures that ultimately aim to establish a dialogue between mind, body, spirit and technology.

Lehlogonolo Mashaba artist interview

We caught up with Mashaba to find out more about his origins as an artist, what’s on his reading list, and the best bit of advice he’s ever received.

First off, can you tell us about yourself and your work?

Lehlogonolo Mashaba, Dis/Integrate XI, mix media drawing, 112 x 157cm

I consider myself a multimedia artist more than anything, and I’m interested in exploring architecture through visual art. I like building structures and all forms of design that attempts to solve problems. I specialise in printmaking which I found is not so different from design, because printmaking requires one to plan the impression or image on a matrix to then replicate it on paper or other surfaces. Printmaking is also akin to the pattern-making of a fashion designer. These techniques make one think about time – that an idea can be frozen in time on a specific surface to be executed by a printmaker or an apprentice in the future. My concepts are driven by these metaphors, especially time and how memories are preserved. Most of my work requires a team to execute. I work with a variety of people from different disciplines which then gives me an opportunity to work in a range of styles and not limit my practice to one technique. My latest project is a three-metre steel wall sculpture installation that I created for a corporate office in Midrand. Although I employed laser-cutting, I am still a firm believer that we should continue carving with our hands and use technology as moderately as possible in as much as it makes our life easier. By using the machine, we lose some of the magic that comes with first-hand experience.

What’s your earliest memory of art-making?

Lehlogonolo Mashaba artist interview

I knew I was an artist before I started school. With my attempt to emulate an illustrator I saw on a TV programme, my family recognised my aptitude for art from that tender age of five. I was thrilled to witness their amazement when they watched me draw. This made me feel like a star, to know that what I did was, to a degree, a rare gift that many of my peers did not possess at the time. Art was never part of my curriculum throughout my school years. Over the years I would draw every now and then until I improved my skills enough to have a portfolio to apply for art studies after high school. I then studied Fine Art at Funda Centre for a year. That is when I was introduced to printmaking and fell in love with it. When I was there, I learned of Artist Proof Studio, an institute that specialises in printmaking. Subsequently, I studied for three years and received most of my art making skills.

What are you reading, watching or listening to at the moment? Any recommendations?

Lehlogonolo Mashaba artist interview
Lehlogonolo Mashaba, Dis/Integrate X, mix media drawing, 112 x 157cm

I have just started reading Bauhaus by Frank Whitford and I am in the middle of reading The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. I recently finished reading Reimagining Myself by Ntsikelelo Mzibomvu. These books are a selection of best tools for the vision that I plan to execute. My music, however, is eclectic this month. I have been listening to Soulful House, Fusion Soul Jazz, and Progressive Rock (Tool, to be specific). I have a growing obsession with the band Animals as Leaders. Through listening to them I have spawned the linear-based painting style of sound waves emitted by the guitar. If there is a composer I find captures the concept of time it is Hans Zimmer. His music sets the best mood for pacing myself whiles it plays in the background. Speaking of moods, I would also recommend these Japanese composers: Hiroyuki Sawano, Joe Hisaishi and Shiro Sagisu. They make the experience of watching anime so memorable. Lastly, we can all agree that Hildur Gaõnadóttir encapsulated the movie Joker beautifully. Ramin Djawadi is also brilliant.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

I’ll paraphrase the best piece of advice I could think of. It is cliché but it is relevant: ‘Save as much earnings as possible, when days are bright, for the impending dark days in the future.’

Which artists are on your radar at the moment?

The artists on my watchlist are Pebofatso Mokoena, Sizwe Khoza, Lindokuhle Zwane, Mfundo Mthiyane and Tebogo Moerane.

Lehlogonolo Mashaba artist interview

One of your favourite places in the world?

My studio is the best place to be. There are no wonders in the world that can replace it. There are so many things I can do in that space, not to mention that I can travel to many imaginable dimensions while creating.

What’s next for you, and where can our readers find more of your work?

The focus has been to create a new cohesive body of work for a potential exhibition next year. In the meantime, I have been doing private and corporate commissions to make ends meet.

I’m available on Instagram going by the name @hlogiart. My email address is for any enquiries and appointments. My studio is situated at Ellis House Art Building. Our doors will be open for the public on 1 and 2 October 2022.

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