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Introducing “To: The Unknown” by Banele Khoza

LKB/G is pleased to present Banele Khoza‘s  first solo exhibition in Germany: To: The Unknown.

Banele Khoza
Banele Khoza | Doubts | 2018 | Acrylic and ink on canvas | 61 x 45 cm

Born in 1994 in Hlatikulu, Swaziland, Khoza is a Pretoria based contemporary artist obsessed with expression of the current state of affairs in human relations. Banele moved to South Africa in 2008 and has since then taken over the title of young up and coming artist to watch. Most recent activities include a solo exhibition with SMITH (Cape Town) in February 2018 after very successful group shows in 2017 as well as winning the Gerard Sekoto Award and the South Africa Taxi Foundation Art Award in 2017.
     Banele Khoza about the upcoming exhibition: ‘The sense that I have felt from people when it comes to abstract works, they either get lost and not understand what the work is about, others find joy in the colours – as colour is personal and has different meaning to each individual. I am also aware that colour is a personal expression on my end, and that is the journey I wish to take people through.’

Opening: 2 August 2018, 19:00 | Exhibition: 3 August – 7 September 2018 | Finissage: 7 September 2018, 19:00

Banele Khoza
Banele Khoza | Memory erased | 2018 | Acrylic and ink on canvas | 110 x 80 cm

     ‘I have also come to associate different meanings of my own with colour and sometimes with a viewer we are on the same page regarding meaning or they completely trail into their own context – which revokes personal memories and experiences. The paintings are consistent to my love for washes, the acrylic still imitates washes that could have been traces of watercolour paints, which the transparency and fluidity captures my personality of being a sensitive human, and transparent and deep with emotion.
     ‘The works are also a response to running away from the figure that has been heavily associated with my painting style, it is running away from expectations and what would safely sell and deviating to emotion and true expression without expectation – it is to the unknown.
     ‘Living in a space of the unknown is letting go of certainty, as things could go either way, and that is my life as an artist and human – I am not aware what tomorrow will bring, most of us do not – yet it is also a great thrill to be in that space too. As anything could happen.’
     LKB/G is a young contemporary art gallery located in Hamburg, DE that focuses on underrepresented positions, especially from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. Additionally, we are fostering the connections between Africa, the Caribbean, Afro-America and Europe as well as the visibility of art of the Global South.

Banele Khoza: a man to watch

With a recent solo show at Zeitz MOCAA, the 2017 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award under his belt and a fleet of taxis covered in his work (as the result of him winning the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award), Banele Khoza’s work is going places.

     Khoza’s first suite of lithographs published by The Artists’ Press demonstrate his skill and dexterity. Khoza’s ability to embrace the unknown and to immerse himself in the technical possibilities of what lithography has to offer, combined with the skills of Master Printer Mark Attwood, have resulted in prints that reveal the artist’s gifts.
     Khoza worked on stone and grained film, using a combination of pencil, litho crayon and ink and tusche washes. The delicate traces of the dried ink, Khoza’s choice of colours and drawing abilities combine to delight the eye. Khoza has been a keen draftsman since the age of 5, drawing images of the toys that he wanted but could not get from his conservative parents. This sense of longing and vulnerability can be seen in Khoza’s lithographs.

     Obsessively neat and detailed text weaves through some of the prints, but one cannot read all of the words. It is as if the artist entices one into his private world and then stops one from fully accessing it, questioning the viewer’s motives for the intrusion. Khoza’s journals are an integral part of his practice and are reflected in his image making. ‘I have never seen so many sharp pencils’ is some of the text included in one of his lithographs. Khoza’s interest in the private and the public merges with his interest in social media, technology, connection/disconnection, isolation and a longing to be whole and completely present with someone as well as with oneself.
     In the six two-colour prints, faces and bodies are alluded to, the delicacy of the washes contrasting with the boldness of the forms. And just as things seem to be getting really serious the text and titles pull one back with a sense of delight and quirkiness. Dear Olympia (a reclining nude with two cats) and Don’t forget the tomatoes reminding one of everyday routines.
     For more info visit www.artprintsa.com or contact mark@artistspress.co.za

A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self

Through an eye-opening new exhibition at the Absa Gallery from 11 November 2018 to 25 January 2019, Banele Khoza shines the light on the difficulties experienced by young creatives trying to obtain an education and start their careers. One of the most promising artists to have come out of the Absa L’Atelier art competition in recent years, Khoza has curated a group exhibition that will give the next generation hope and see the development of a new foundation to provide financial help and guidance to young creatives.

A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self Absa
Banele Khoza

The inspiration for the exhibition A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self stems from personal, first-hand experience. ‘In 2011, I had days where I would sleep without food and had to result to going to school with a grumbling stomach (if I had money for the taxi fair), my concentration levels were impaired. But I could not tell anyone as I was afraid to ask for help, also I felt ashamed by my situation. I failed my first year due to my poor decision-making that was driven by hunger and a lack of help,’ says Banele Khoza.
     Now at a place in his life where his career is starting to take off and his basic necessities are covered, Khoza wishes he could let his 22-year-old-self know that there is hope. By writing an open and honest letter, he could explain what has happened over the past few years and, in essence, guide himself through it.
     Realising that his situation was by no means unique, Khoza has put this exhibition together to give young creatives hope and show them that they are not alone. He will also be using the funds raised through this exhibition to build a foundation that will assist future arts practitioners with funding for their education and basic needs.
     ‘Through the foundation, we basically want to help with those tiny needs like transportation money, money for food while you are at school, and it’s just trying to help with those small specifics. Then come registration fees, if you miss the deadline, it means you don’t enrol for the year, so it’s trying to tackle those issues as well.’

A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self Absa
Zanele Muholi x Banele Khoza, Zana Nyilenda, Los Angeles, 2013. Edition 1/1. Illustrated 2016

     Khoza has asked a number of artists and friends in his personal network to donate an artwork for this exhibition and to write a letter to their own 22-year-old-self, which will also be on display at the exhibition and hopefully provide hope, inspiration and advice for young creatives.
     Khoza approached each artist personally to ask if they would consider donating their artwork for the exhibition. ‘Having that one-on-one, and also being very honest and just saying that actually, I’ve had periods where I didn’t have food.’ It’s reaching into a personal space where ‘we’re not just creating this show for hype or anything, it’s about helping the next individual that is hungry, and instantly, everyone is willing to donate.’ Khoza was ambitious in his choice of artists and thought that some of them might not agree to it but, he says, they were the very first ones to say, ‘yes, I’m here to help.’ In reflection, he reminds himself of something he was told: ‘if you want something, just ask, and that’s what I did, I asked.’
     Excitingly, a recent collaboration between Zanele Muholi and Khoza will also be exhibited at A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self. Muholi approached Khoza in 2016 ‘and asked that I please interpret her series called Faces and Phases and I did about 40 illustrations of that work. We hadn’t found a space to exhibit the series in the past and so, two years later, I asked her if she would be open to having this series of work available for the exhibition and she said yes, so we are going to have it.’
     It’s no secret that there are inconsistencies in the South African arts education system and a lack of sufficient funding and support when it comes to the arts, and Khoza feels that ‘as artists and people in the practice, I think it’s almost our responsibility. While you are at varsity as a creative, you might realise that something is lacking, but once you’re able to earn something, try to invest it back into education because then that’s how it gives light to the next creative. I don’t think it’s something we should wait on government to actually sustain or build up, I think that we have to take it in our own hands to build it up.’

A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self Absa
Ed Young, Biscuit, 2015. South African Mohair Traditional Teddybear. 42cm

     A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self opens a space to say, ‘if you need help, we are here to provide you.’
     The foundation’s goals, initially, are to develop scholarships for creative students who are of need (not based on merit) and identify varsity individuals who need help covering registration fees, transportation costs and art material costs. Khoza hopes to also use the foundation as a platform to link creatives to mentors, and to fund masterclasses. Through these, audiences will have the ability to learn from iconoclasts both in person and online – both as videos and as podcasts.
     In terms of identifying different people to approach as mentors for these masterclasses, he looks at inviting people who are savvy in the creative industry. For example, Sylvester Chauke, a respected branding and marketing practitioner. With his own studio, BKhz, Khoza says he has learnt that ‘you have to be aware of so many aspects. Since we’ve opened the doors here, we’ve had people from different foundations coming in. We need to be able to answer questions related to business practice and teach the students to be independent in their own practice,’ which is why it is important to identify people who are knowledgeable in these fields.
     As the 2017 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Khoza is proud to be bringing this exhibition ‘home’. ‘I’m very excited to be curating at the Absa Gallery – and that they are trusting that I will do a great job within it. I think I have times where I feel slightly unsure… but I feel I got this opportunity because I can do it, and I’m learning to trust that I will do it. They’ve allowed my visions to actually happen, like recolouring and adding a bit of comfort to the space, so I’m very happy about that.’
     The future looks exciting for Khoza, whose travelling solo exhibition will start in March next year at the Absa Gallery and continue to different venues throughout South Africa. He also hopes to expand the brand BKhz.
     In light of his upcoming exhibition, what advice does he have for his 22-year-old self? ‘I would definitely say relax, it’s going to happen, whatever you’re thinking of right now at this point, it’s all going to happen and it’s going to happen so rapidly you’re not even prepared for it and you’re going to love it.’
     A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self is on at the Absa Gallery, Johannesburg from 11 November 2018 – 25 January 2019.

November 2018

This month in Creative Feel, we look at the art spaces that are powering the transformation of Joburg’s inner city, and on our cover we feature a gritty photograph by Cale Waddacor that represents this unique, buzzing city. We reveal Herman Charles Bosman’s deep love for Johannesburg’s spaces, explore the latest pantomime at the Joburg Theatre by theatre legend Janice Honeyman, and we chat to the inspirational team behind Moving Into Dance. Banele Khoza shines the light on the difficulties experienced by young creatives, Vaal University of Technology offers Fine Art courses at different levels, the MTN Art Collection showcases items specific to Africa’s indigenous artistic practices in its latest exhibition and Nicholas Hlobo presents an exhibition of sculpture, painting and installation at STEVENSON. Mandela Bay Development Agency powers NMB Fashion Week to success, Tamara James uncovers the surest route to – momentary – recoveries, and we explore the upcoming auctions in South Africa while mastering an art auction.

#FNBJAF20: The search for Africa’s most influential new artistic talent

The FNB JoburgArtFair is asking YOU to vote for your favourite up-and-coming artist from around the continent.

Nominate and vote for your favourite new and exciting talent by posting the artist’s name with the hashtag #FNBJAF20 on Instagram or Twitter (or go onto their website, browse through the amazing artists featured and vote) for a chance to win opening night tickets!
     Voting will be open through August. On the week of the 2018 FNB JoburgArtFair they’ll announce the top 20 artists that received the most votes, revealing the #FNBJAF20 of 2018.

Choose Africa’s new and exciting talent now! #FNBJAF20

Banele Khoza (South Africa)

This year, FNB JoburgArtFair has introduced #FNBJAF20, an initiative designed to uncover the new and exciting talent on the African continent that is currently, and has the potential, to shape and inspire the global art scene now and into the future – and the public is invited to participate.
     During the month of July, a selection of curators, collectors, gallerists and art platforms were approached to put forward up to three new talent contemporary artists they believe have the ability to fit this description – to influence talented production and culture at large.
     These nominations have been gathered onto one webpage (http://fnbjoburgartfair.co.za/fnbjaf20/) which displays the nominated new talent artists and will capture public votes. People can scroll through the nominations and either vote for one of the artists already included OR put forward a recommendation of their own. All they need to do is supply the artist’s name. Entries open on 14 August 2018 and will be capped at 50 nominations.
     People can vote for up to three artists and the Top 20 result will be the 20 artists with the most votes. To make it that much easier, votes can also be done via the hashtag #FNBJAF20 on social media and online. Voters who submit via the website and submit their email address will be eligible to win:

  • One of five sets of two complimentary tickets to the much sought after Opening Night of the FNB JoburgArtFair on Thursday 6 September, OR
  • One of 10 sets of two complimentary tickets good for any of the Fair days i.e. Friday, Saturday or Sunday, 7, 8 or 9 September.
#FNBJAF20
Themba Khumalo (South Africa)

Members of the public have until 4 September 2018 to vote. Eligible winners will be notified via email 5 September 2018 and have 24 hours to claim their prize. During the week of the FNB JoburgArtFair, the top 20 artists will be announced on social media.
     “There has been a significant increase of interest in contemporary African art over the past decade since we first launched the FNB JoburgArtFair,” says Cobi Labuscagne, Director of Artlogic. “In turn, this has resulted in an increase in the number of galleries representing artists, foundations, museums, art fairs, installations in urban precincts and exploratory projects – in general more excitement and energy. Through this process, some African artists will emerge with stronger voices than others – and we’d like the public to help us find out who they are. Ultimately, it is the public’s voice that counts in terms of a more profound and lasting influence.”

#FNBJAF20
Anastasia Pather (South Africa)

     “The FNB JoburgArtFair has been an incredible platform for unearthing artistic talent and we have seen many of the artists’ careers being catapulted onto the international stage after being showcased at the Fair. The continued success of the Fair speaks to the very core of our approach to sponsorships, which is to create opportunities for artists to go from the initial inspiration to the creation of the art pieces. The #FNBJAF20 is an opportunity for the public to show their support for our artists by voting in their droves,” says Bonga Sebesho, FNB Head of Sponsorships.
     Terms & Conditions Apply. Please see below or refer to the website for details.
     Please note that the ticket giveaways do not include transport and accommodation to Johannesburg to attend the FNB JoburgArtFair.

Venue:
Sandton Convention Centre, Exhibition Hall 1, 161 Maude Street, Sandton
Dates:
7 – 9 September 2018
Opening times:
Thursday, 6 September: Opening Night 6:30 – 21:00
Friday, 7 September: 11am – 20:00
Saturday, 8 September: 11am – 19:00
Sunday, 9 September: 11am – 17:00
Early Bird Tickets R125 available at tixsa.co.za
For more information visit www.fnbjoburgartfair.co.za

More on FNB JoburgArtFair:

10 things not to miss at FNB JoburgArtFair
FNB Art Prize winner Haroon Gunn-Salie’s reflection space
WIN double tickets to the 2018 FNB JoburgArtFair
#FNBJAF20: The search for Africa’s most influential new artistic talent
Public art galleries: are we accountable?

Zeitz MOCAA’s Curatorial Lab officially opens with emphasis on the preservation of human rights

On 11 April 2018, the Curatorial Lab at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) was official opened by Kees van Baar, Human Rights Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. A new exhibition by Banele Khoza was on view to celebrate the opening of the space.

Banele Khoza Zeitz MOCCA
Banele Khoza, Trying to impress, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92 cm. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection

     Situated on Level 1 at Zeitz MOCAA, the Curatorial Lab is a multi-disciplinary space for experimental curatorial practice and research that explores new curatorial methodologies, subversive curatorial approaches, non-prescriptive practices, and under-represented topics and issues. The Curatorial Lab initiates lectures, forums, panel discussions, screenings, performances and houses a library, a workshop / viewing room and four galleries.
     The current focus of the Curatorial Lab is LGBTQI+ issues and rights. It is a dedicated space in the museum to guarantee that the voices and experiences of this community are heard. This focus on LGBTQI+ issues and rights is generously supported by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
     The South African Constitution in theory protects the rights of all, including an individual’s right to sexual choices. Section 9.3 and 9.4 of the Constitution of South Africa guarantees equality before the law and freedom from discrimination for its people. The Equality Right is listed first in the Bill of Rights: “The state may not, and no person may, unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.” But sadly, in practice, we’ve seen gross violations of these human rights towards the LGBTQI+ community.

Banele Khoza Zeitz MOCCA
Banele Khoza, Watching him sleep, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92 cm. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection

     It is fundamental that we create awareness for the position and rights of the LGBTQI+ community on the African continent, hence this project being a critical undertaking in the process of ensuring the visibility and representation of the community in South Africa through arts and culture. The Curatorial Lab is a safe space where we can look, read, hear and learn. A place where our eyes can be opened and where our responsibilities to our fellow humans can be respected.
     In only a few months, the Curatorial Lab has already marked its place by exhibiting the work of artist/activist Zanele Muholi; hosting numerous guided tours focusing on LGBTQI+ themes; facilitating the inclusion of LGBTQI+ artists and themes in the museum’s permanent exhibition galleries; hosting commemorative performances on International Human Rights Day, which also marked the end of 16-Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence; hosting an educational lecture for South African National Human Rights Day on Constitutional Law and protection against homophobic abuse, violence and stigma; arranging debates and facilitating workshops with journalists from across the African continent to encourage fairer and more representative coverage of LGBTQI+ narratives within the media; opened a workshop/viewing room for LGBTQI+ themed film and video; and started a young, but growing collection of publications for a library that is open to the public.

Banele Khoza Zeitz MOCCA
Banele Khoza, Looking the other way, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 122 x 92 cm. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection

     The LGBTQI+ Banele Khoza exhibition forms part of the Curatorial Lab’s ongoing partnership with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which investigates the representation of the LGBTQI+ community in an attempt to preserve human rights based on the South African constitution and within the context of homophobia and the current oppression of LGBTQI+ rights in South Africa. This project strives to promote intercultural understanding of a community who have been excluded from society’s predominantly hetero-normative culture and discourse, promotes education through the arts and develops critical thinking about gender and sexuality.
     Banele Khoza’s abstract and figurative paintings depict colourful portraits of the male nude represented through obscure ghostly figures in palettes of mostly pink and blue. The pigments are combined and blurred together in fervent brushstrokes that appear to be applied with acute sensitivity and without a sense of inhibition while empty spaces and pencil sketch marks reveal their compositional form.
     This presentation of Khoza’s work has been curated by Sakhisizwe Gcina, AKO Foundation Assistant Curator of Special Projects, Curatorial Lab, Zeitz MOCAA, who says: “Romantic and dream-like, Banele Khoza’s portraits allude to fantasies of sensual desire contrasted with a feeling of vulnerability and incompleteness. Is this fanciful exploration an attempt to mask the everyday reality of loneliness?”
     “Khoza’s paintings compel us to consider the subconscious wishes of the solitary figures and their imaginative foray into homo-erotic relationships as they are formed and destroyed. There is an embrace of sexual liberation and disruption of traditional gender binary constructs through nuanced effeminate depictions.”

Banele Khoza Zeitz MOCCA
Banele Khoza, I’ve got you, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 150 x 100 cm. On long-term loan from the Zeitz Collection

     Technology and the digital information age came with a promise of forming intimate bonds between communities and individuals. However, it also offered the convenience of superficial relationships through fleeting connections made in cyberspace. LGBTQI+ Banele Khoza interrogates how Khoza’s visual language examines the suppression of complex and diverse expressions of masculinity and men trying to find love from each other in today’s filtered virtual world.
     Kees van Baar, Human Rights Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands shared his enthusiasm. “It was uplifting to meet with South Africans to see how together we can promote human rights worldwide.”
     “The LGBTQI+ Banele Khoza exhibition is in line with Zeitz MOCAA’s commitment to intercultural understanding together with the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ protection of human rights. The goal of the exhibition is to establish dialogue and respect for human rights – regardless of gender, creed or sexual orientation – to create a safe environment for the discussion around similarities and differences that create a multi-cultural and diverse society,” said Mark Coetzee, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Zeitz MOCAA. “It is important for the museum to support young artists from the LGBTQI+ community through the Curatorial Lab as it is an opportunity to exhibit artists or issues that are often overlooked.

Exhibition name: LGBTQI+ Banele Khoza

Curator: Sakhisizwe Gcina, AKO Foundation Assistant Curator of Special Projects, Curatorial Lab, Zeitz MOCAA

Run dates: Thursday 12 April 2018 – Sunday 16 September 2018

Venue: Curatorial Lab, Level 1, Zeitz MOCAA

Absa Gallery hosts first-ever group exhibition of all Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners

Gerard Sekoto is widely recognised as the pioneer of black South African art. He changed the narrative of how the work and lives of black South African artists would be perceived, valued and documented.

It was for these reasons that the Absa L’Atelier awards honoured the artist’s legacy by introducing the Gerard Sekoto Award in 2004 – an accolade bestowed on the most promising emerging artists to enter the competition every year since. Now, inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together, for the first time, all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition. Titled A change in the Narrative, the exhibition explores the winning artists’ narratives, through their work and through the reflective retellings of their thoughts and experiences since winning the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award. Explains Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa Art and Museum Curator: “The exchange of narratives is an innately human activity and a key component in the sharing of meaningful human experiences. Gerard Sekoto’s work drew heavily from the value of the narratives around him. It is this dedication to the value of the narrative, especially the artist’s narrative, that is a key part of the ethos of the Gerard Sekoto Award. As such, A Change in the Narrative is a celebration of Absa L’Atelier and the Gerard Sekoto Award’s value and support of the artist’s narrative.” 

Inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition.

Inspired by Sekoto’s contributions to South African art, the Absa Gallery brings together all the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winners in one exhibition.

The artists participating in the exhibition include Belinda Zangewa, Lawrence Lemaoana, Nomusa Makhuba, Nina Barnett, Retha Ferguson, Nyaniso Lindi, Bongumenzi Ngobese, Isabel Mertz, Bambo Sibiya, Mongezi Ncaphayi, Mbavhalelo Nekhavhambe, Natalie Moore, Matete Motubatse and Banele KhozaThe exhibition will be curated by Luyanda Zindela, a young Durban-based artist who won a Merit Award in the 2014 instalment of the Absa L’Atelier competition. As part of his prize, Zindela attended an art residency at, and became a fellow of, of the Ampersand Foundation in New York in 2015. Zindela holds a BTech Degree in Fine Art and is currently studying towards his Master’s Degree in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology.  Although he has participated in numerous national exhibitions, A change in the Narrative marks his curatorial debut. “Being presented with such a massive curatorial opportunity not only exemplifies Absa’s continued value and support for the unearthing of young, creative, African talent through the Absa L’Atelier art competition but it also exemplifies Absa’s continued dedication to significantly investing in and nurturing the careers and narratives of the artists that emerge as a result of the competition” Luyanda said. 

Absa
Isabel Mertz – Water Damage

The Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award was introduced in 2004 with the objective to support the most promising emerging young South African artists with the opportunity to live, work and experience Paris at the Cite Internationale des Arts for three months. This accolade is hosted and awarded in collaboration with the Alliance Française, the French Institute, French Embassy in South Africa and the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). It is an award that has not only provided the winning artists with a launch pad for their careers, but has also had a hand in nurturing, shaping or altering their personal and artistic narratives. “We strive to share the best of French and francophone culture with South Africa and to promote South African artists on the international scene, and this show is an important milestone in our endeavours to strengthen creative exchanges between South Africa and France. For over a decade we have been supporting these artists by sending them on a 3 months residency in Paris at the Cité des Arts and then organising a touring solo exhibition throughout the country of their work. All these artists are links between our countries and audiences, always strengthening the exchange between artists and audiences” says Marian Claudel of the French Institute. 

A change in the Narrative runs from 20 November 2017 to 26 January 2018 at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg.

The 2017 Absa L’Atelier: A bright future for African art

The Absa L’Atelier is one of Africa’s most prestigious and revered art competitions. Each year, it provides young visual artists aged 21 to 35 with the opportunity to develop their talents abroad and further develop their careers and personal brands.

L'Atelier
Elias Njora | Foot Prints | Kenya

With the winners of this year’s competition just announced, we speak with Absa Art and Museum Curator, Dr Paul Bayliss about the importance of art competitions and investments in the contemporary art world. Inside the Absa Gallery, things are exciting. Works are freshly hung on the walls, and installation pieces are being moved in. Bayliss is busy as usual. Besides curating Absa’s corporate collection, he’s also responsible for the Money Museum, Absa’s Archives and, of course, managing the Absa L’Atelier. This is Bayliss’ seventh year with the Absa L’Atelier, a competition that’s been running for 32 years now in partnership with the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). Since his appointment as Absa Art Curator in 2011, there have been several positive changes to the Absa L’Atelier. ‘When we celebrated the 30th year, we opened the competition up across the continent, inviting artists from Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and Zambia, in addition to South Africa. Now we’ve broadened it across the 10 countries we as Barclays Africa have a presence,’ he explains. Currently, the Absa L’Atelier extends itself to Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa. Each country has its own partnerships and curators on the ground, to ensure a smooth process.

To the visual arts community  it’s a sign of future talent. For all  artists who make it into the final exhibition, and specifically the top 10, the Absa Gallery will continue to partner with them in assisting them build their brand

L'Atelier
Ciara Struwig | Evidence | SA

‘Besides expanding the competition, we’ve brought on more partners,’ adds Bayliss. ‘We’ve increased the Merit Awards so we’ve brought on the three Merit Award Residencies with Ampersand, Bag Factory and Sylt Foundation in 2013. We’ve also brought in the two-day art professionalism course which is focused on the top 10 artists. That course involves helping them with managing their careers and building their own brands as artists.’ This is in addition to the Gerard Sekoto prize, as well as the overall prize of the competition, and those who crack the top 100. But besides validation and esteem, what does all of this mean for a winning artist? ‘I think for anyone who wins it, it assists in boosting their career, it definitely puts them on the map,’ he explains. ‘To the visual arts community, it’s a sign of future talent. For all other artists who make it into the final exhibition, and specifically the top 10, the Absa Gallery will continue to partner with them.’ And for an emerging African artist, support can prove to be invaluable. Artists who form part of the Absa family by way of The Absa L’Atelier are provided with ongoing support, be it in the way of advice, guidance, and even a chance to be included in Absa corporate art collection and commissioned work. ‘So suddenly they’re no longer feeling as if they’re in this world trying to make a name for themselves on their own. That they’re out there and there’s someone who is walking this journey with them. It’s really like a family in that way.’

L'Atelier
Dale Lawrence | Making Work | SA

Certainly, The Absa L’Atelier has helped many artists over the years, and continues to do so. Looking back at some of the first ever winners of the competition, you’ll come across names such as Penny Siopis, Diane Victor and Conrad Botes, all of whom went on to greatly influence South African art. More recent names include Pieter Hugo, Sethembile Msezane, Banele Khoza, Retha Ferguson, Bambo Sibiya, and more. It’s long been the case that artists benefit from investors, corporate backers, and financial institutions such as Absa. Besides helping to launch the careers of artists, support them in future projects, and provide them with a national and even global level of exposure, brands and institutions like Absa help to foster an ongoing curiosity and interest in art from the African continent. But why do they do it? Does it all stem from a natural passion for local art? Not only does Absa create a platform to showcase their work through this competition, but we have also been increasingly active in identifying, nurturing, promoting and sponsoring these artists through our gallery. Aligned with our ambition to leave things better than how we found it, the empowerment of these young artists through Absa L’Atelier has proven that investing in young arts professionals is critical in the development of the Arts sector on the continent. Teaching them through mentorship, the basics of building their arts brand and running an arts business, is a clear expression of our Shared Growth strategy.

It forms part of our shared growth strategy – to try and leave the world in a better state than when you found it. And it’s a way of investing in future talent

L'Atelier
Oliver Mayhew | Receipt Poem Shop right | SA

From a Barclays Africa perspective, this is really important to us especially in view of our pan-African programme called ReadyToWork which endeavours to help young people build the skills they need to make the critical transition from education into the world of work,’ says Bayliss. To take a cursory look at this year’s work, themes range from everyday struggles and celebrations, to contemporary politics and issues of social justice. ‘There’s some political work coming through, particularly from the Southern African artists. Up North too. A number of the artworks are also dealing with issues of women’s rights, women’s abuse and their status within society and things like that. But when you look at this year’s work, in terms of themes, those are the two strongest things you’ll notice.’ And what’s the future of African art looking like? If this year’s Absa L’Atelier is anything to go by, it’s looking bright. ‘I’m positive,’ says Bayliss. ‘It’s nice to see that there is a good take-up across the continent in each of the countries when it comes to The Absa L’Atelier. There’s a hunger amongst the young artists to get their names out there. There’s an improvement in the quality of the artworks that come through every year. It makes the competition worthwhile when you see that. I would like to close by thanking all the partners across the continent that assist us in the project. Also to the artists that continue to support the L’Atelier by entering it.’

L'Atelier
Bright Ackwerh | Selfication | Ghana

Read more about the 2017 Absa L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Of Mothers and Others

Absa L'Atelier
Maral Bolouri | Mothers and Others | Kenya

Kenyan artist, Maral Bolouri, has been announced as the overall winner of the prestigious Absa L’Atelier 2017.

Born in 1982, Maral Bolouri has a BA (Fine Arts) from Tehran University of Art, as well as an MA in International Contemporary Art and Design Practice. She has participated in a number of group exhibitions in Kenya, the United States of America, Kuala Lumpur and Tehran. She was a top 100 finalist in the 2015 Absa L’Atelier competition. Her winning artwork, Mothers and Others investigates representations of women in African oral traditions. This multi-sensory, interactive installation explores the power of proverbs by juxtaposing negative and positive depictions of women in cultural truisms. These adages overwhelmingly portray women as helpless imbeciles, except for when the sayings espouse women’s reproductive potential as mothers. Through three metaphorical structures, Mothers and Others draws the audience’s attention to the negative and positive proverbs, as well as to the proverbs we have yet to imagine. In one structure, handmade iron cowbells, representing the objectification of women and bearing examples of negative proverbs, hang from a giant stool. Underneath, a small altar holds the few positive proverbs about women, related almost exclusively to motherhood, surrounded by extinguished candles. The third – a blank board – invites the audience to contribute their own proverbs. The artist encourages the audience to interact with each structure.

Absa L'Atelier
Maral Bolouri | Mothers and Others | Kenya

Of Bolouri, Zihan Kassam, artist and art correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya, says, ‘from the overwhelming restrictions in Tehran to the growing freedom of artistic expression in Kenya, Bolouri has found a small platform in Nairobi, where she can express the senselessness of certain norms that persist in society. Subtly expressing the thoughts that many of us think but don’t dare voice, this bold, observant artist doesn’t care if she has to dance alone… ‘In her discourse and all through her artwork, Maral Bolouri is a bona-fide minimalist, a refreshing, careful, introspective creature who will win you over with just a few choice statements and image placements.’ As the overall winner, Bolouri walks away with a six-month residency in the studio apartment at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris from January to June 2018, a return ticket to Paris, and R300 000 to use to study while in residence. Following her residency, Bolouri will present a solo exhibition at the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg. In addition, all top ten finalists are placed on a two-day art professionalism course to assist them in managing their careers. Each finalist will also be paired with a mentor who will work with them for a year.

Absa L'Atelier
Maral Bolouri | Mothers and Others | Kenya

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making

Banele Khoza, a fine artist based in Pretoria, has been awarded the 2017 Gerard Sekoto Award from the Absa L’Atelier for his series of digital drawings Note Making.

Banele Khoza was born in Swaziland and moved to South Africa in 2008. He initially started studying fashion at LISOF, but soon realised his passion lay in drawing. He completed his BTech in Fine Arts at Tshwane University of Technology in 2015. Khoza has been quickly making a name for himself in the arts industry since completing his studies. He won the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award earlier this year, and was chosen by Lizamore & Associates as the 2016 Johannes Stegmann Mentee and was mentored by acclaimed artist Colbert Mashile, culminating in the solo exhibition Lonely Nights in March 2017. He had a solo exhibition, Temporary Feelings, at the Pretoria Art Museum in 2016 and has participated in various group exhibitions and has been a finalist in various art competitions such as the Sasol New Signatures (2014), Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Award (2014), and the Absa L’Atelier (2015 and 2016). He has also completed various commissions and projects, including an artwork for the Tshwane BRT A Re Yeng bus station (2015), a USA ambassadors residential mural drawing (2014) and an illustrated book cover for Edward Nkosi’s The Bearer (2014). OppiKoppi 2017, ‘Me Now, The Mango Picker’, chose one of Khoza’s paintings as the artwork for the event.  

Of his winning artwork series, Note Making, Khoza says, ‘Traditionally, note making has been done with pen on paper. With the development of technology the process is steadily changing – over the past years I have owned a tablet that responds to a stylus and has enabled note making that resembles traditional tools. The tablet enables one to sketch at any time of the day, and declutters the working space. Within the notes, I question representations of what it is to be a male in South Africa and also in a broader context. Male nudity and vulnerability is still something that isn’t vastly portrayed in media today and, with this body of work, I have allowed myself to be vulnerable by expressing my thoughts and feelings, which are easily decipherable to a patient eye. The gaze shifts to the male body and raises issues around heteronormative representations of masculinity in portraiture.’ As the Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Khoza is awarded a return flight ticket to Paris, three months’ stay in the Cité Internationale des Arts, nationwide touring exhibitions and training in French. The Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris residencies are made available by SANAVA. The Gerard Sekoto Award, which is given to the most promising South African artist with an income of less than R60 000 per annum, is sponsored by Alliance Française, the French Institute and the French Embassy.

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Unpacking social stereotypes

Absa L'Atelier
Priscilla Kennedy | Untitled | 2016 | Ghana

The First Merit Award for this year’s Absa L’Atelier is Ghanian artist Priscilla Kennedy.

Priscilla Kennedy (b.1994) is presently studying towards a BA (Fine Arts) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. Since 2015 she has participated in several group exhibitions in Ghana. Of her Untitled work, Kennedy says, ‘This body of work depicts an embroidered female figure in pink underwear on a forest green keffiyeh (scarf), trying to hold both hands at her back – this may seem impossible but she still tries. This takes a jab at the social stereotype that women are tools of seduction. There is this kind of sacredness that the piece may seem to profane but it’s not only the profanity that the work portrays but also the sacredness of this particular headdress. With the kind of iconography and paradox that comes into the work, it’s literally giving women visibility through both the work’s medium and its artistic technique, considering the [contradictory] nature of both materials. This work of art renders a two dimensional view; the front which may be perceived as accomplished and the back that looks loose.’ Kennedy wins a three-month residency at The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in Johannesburg, a return flight to Johannesburg, and a monthly stipend.

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

‘A sickening symbol of sloth’

Absa L'Atelier
Wilhelmina Nell No Evidence Of A Struggle | SA

South African artist Wilhelmina Nell has been awarded the Second Merit Award at the 2017 Absa L’Atelier.   

Wilhelmina Nell (b.1990) obtained a BA (FA) from the University of Pretoria, South Africa in 2014. She was a finalist in the L’Atelier competition in 2014. Nell’s winning work, No Evidence of a Struggle, is made from bronze, wax paper and wood. ‘Growing up, I was told that the crust of a loaf of bread contained the most nutrients and as such it is very important to always eat it, should I wish to grow up healthy,’ she says. ‘This seemed reasonable since it matched up with all the other life lessons I was being taught, which emphasised the importance of hard work and good behaviour, no matter how unpleasant it may be. I was assured that diligent behaviour was the key to a happy and successful future. As such, the discarded lunchbox – filled with untouched crusts – became a sickening symbol of sloth. It is the mark of a person unwilling to be proactive in their success, in a world where I was told good deeds and actions always yield good results and misfortune is brought on through one’s own faults.’ Nell’s win includes a two-month residency at the Sylt Foundation on the Island of Sylt, Germany. The residency includes an apartment on the island, a return flight to Germany and a monthly stipend.

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Absa L'Atelier
Manyatsa Monyamane | Koko Meikie | SA

Photographer Manyatsa Monyamane from South Africa has won the Third Merit Award at the 2017 Absa L’Atelier.

Manyatsa Monyamane (b.1989) graduated with a BTech (Photography) from Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. Monyamane has participated in several group exhibitions, including Fresh Produce at Turbine Art Fair 2017In her work Koko Meikie, Monyamane asks, ‘When does a trend begin? Who defines the boundaries and measures of style? Who claims the prize of being the originator of the current most acceptable standard of contemporary beauty? It would be superfluous of us if we were to continue borrowing our grandparents’ rags without acknowledging their primary influence in what we consider fashionable identities today. This project thus focuses on capturing the essence of timeless beauty and style of the youth of the 1970s and earlier, looking at how they define themselves 50 years later. Are they as stylish today as they were when they were teenagers fighting an oppressive system? My argument: yes, indeed! They walk tall and don’t bat an eye to a fleeting trend; rooted in their authenticity, unmoved by the fickle mainstream, no longer an image of helpless wrinkled hands reaching out for life, but instead a movement of powerful voices reclaiming their spaces.’ Monyamane wins a one-month residency at the Ampersand Foundation in New York City, which includes the use of an apartment. She will become a Fellow of the Ampersand Foundation, and will receive an AAM (American Association of Museums) card, which gives her free access to most museums in New York City. The prize includes a return flight to New York City and a monthly stipend.

Read more about the 2017 L’Atelier Competition winners here:

Overall winner, Maral Bolouri – Of Mothers and Others
Gerard Sekoto Award winner, Banele Khoza – Lonely Nights, Temporary Feelings and Note Making
First Merit Award winner, Priscilla Kennedy – Unpacking social stereotypes
Second Merit Award winner, Wilhelmina Nell – ‘A sickening symbol of sloth’
Third Merit Award winner, Manyatsa Monyamane – Powerful voices reclaiming their spaces

Me Now, The Mango Picker

Oppikoppi

Now in its twenty-third year, OppiKoppi has announced it is here to stay. Ranked the fourth best music festival in the world, this October will see the festival continue to do its part to change the country and bring people together in a spontaneous and natural way.

The theme for this year, ‘Me Now, the Mango Picker’ is inspired by a strangely beautiful tune by Carlo Mombelli, bass jazz maestro who many people claim is one of the world’s finest. ‘The name comes from a Carlo Mombelli song, “Me, the Mango picker”,’ say festival organisers. ‘We decided to update it by adding “NOW”, making it present and in a way, a bit persistent. “The song was born when I was living in Germany in the 1990s, teaching at the conservatory in Munich. My wife and I missed home and wanted to get back and finally, I felt that the mangoes were ripe and Me, the Mango Picker needed to go home to taste them. That we did in 1998 and it was the best thing we ever did. It’s just a simple song but somehow it has now been recorded in New York, in Belgium, and last year someone in Paris recorded it and at the 2015 Montreux Fest Jazz Academy, they picked that song to workshop together with Al Jarreau. So basically, it’s a positive song about tasting the fruits of South Africa and the beautiful place we live in!”’ In keeping with the the gruff rock inspired festival’s support for the fine arts, this year they chose an artwork by Banele Khoza. ‘A painting to launch a ship with. Or, of course, a sun-drenched rock festival’. OppiKoppi is the biggest multiple-day music festival held in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, near the mining town of Northam.

Oppikoppi

The first ever band weekend at the OppiKoppi farm took place in May 1994 with Valiant Swart, Koos Kombuis and few hundred people in the small bar. It has since grown substantially, with the addition of many new stages and thousands of people turning up each year. The festival is regarded by some as the primary influence in jump-starting the South African rock music movement in the late 1990s. Thousands of people still flock to the farm to camp out in the bush and enjoy simultaneous performances on seven stages. Although the festival started off focusing mostly on rock music, more genres were soon added and now plays host to roughly 160 sets of international and South African music and entertainment acts of all genres including rock, hip hop, hardcore, punk, ska, folk, blues, drum ‘n bass, big beats, kwaito, jazz, funk, traditional, world music, comedy, metal, indie, house and other genres. ‘South Africa’s only festival with a heritage site’ takes place on 5, 6 and 7 October this year. General Admission to the three-day festival is only R930. ‘General Admission’ is a dated term. Like cardigans and beards and many more. There it is again. This rock-bottom ticket price includes 24 hour camping on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tented hotel accommodation, from smart to super outrageous, is also available and ranges from R1000 to R3400 per person depending on your fondness for luxury. Or the lap thereof. Plus! Included in your bargain ticket are well over 150 live performances by countless (we’ve tried) artists, bands, DJ’s, actors, comedians, chefs and other crew members from all over our amazing universe.

Tickets are available at Plankton.mobi and ComputicketThe OppiKoppi Me Now, The Mango Picker line-up includes Carlo Mombelli, Black Coffee, The Muffinz, The Brother Moves On, Two Door Cinema Club, Francois Van Coke, Albert Frost, The Naked + Famous, Mafikizolo, Beatenberg and Snakehips.

Winners of the 2017 SA Taxi Foundation Art Award Announced

SA Taxi
From Left | Jabo Nkomo (Finalist | Mixed Media) | Duma Mtimkulu (Finalist | Three Dimensional Work) | Mashudu Nevhutalu (Finalist | Two Dimensional Work) | Lebohang Kganye (Finalist | Multiples) | Banele Khoza (Overall Winner) | Mpho Mokgadi (Finalist | Digital | Multimedia)

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

Award Winner | Banele Khoza

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.

SA Taxi
Banele Khoza | Untitled (triptych)

2. Lebohang Kganye Finalist: Multiples

Finalist: Multiples | Lebohang Kganye

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.

SA Taxi
Lebohang Kganye | The Nailcutter

3. Mpho Mokgadi Finalist: Digital/Multimedia

Finalist | Digital/Multimedia | Mpho Mokgadi

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.

SA Taxi
Mpho Mokgadi | Sanlam Building

4. Duma Mtimkulu: Finalist: Three Dimensional Work

Finalist | Three Dimensional Work | Duma Mtimkulu

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.

SA Taxi
Duma Mtimkulu | Young Man

5. Mashudu Nevhutalu Finalist: Two Dimensional Work

Finalist | Two Dimensional Work | Mashudu Nevhutalu

“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.

SA Taxi
Mashudu Nevhutalu | Person of Colour

6. Jabu Nkomo Finalist: Mixed Media

Finalist | Mixed Media | Jabu Nkomo

“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.

SA Taxi
Jabu Nkomo | Overload Let’s Go
SA Taxi
Taxi Decal Design

Absa Gallery spotlights fascinating artists’ books in Bibliophilia

Lovers of fine, contemporary South African art will get a rare glimpse inside the minds of some of the country’s top visual artists this month when the intriguing Bibliophilia … Turning the Pages group exhibition opens at the Absa Gallery on Sunday, 5 February.

This creative showcase explores bibliophilia, or the love of reading, admiring and collecting books. But these are not just any books. They are the working books produced by individual artists in creating their bodies of work.The artists featured have used both the traditional structure of a book and the contemporary interpretation of book objects to produce the limited edition artists’ books on show.

Barbara Wildenboer
Spinning Tales II, Barbara Wildenboer, Library of the Infinitesimally Small & Unimaginably Large

Kathleen Sawyer, the 2013 L’Atelier Merit Award winner, and several other artists who have participated in the prestigious L’Atelier competition over the years, including Stephen Rosin, Shenaz Mohamed and Neil Nieuwoudt, will take visitors on a personal journey through their love of the written word and their creative expression thereof.

Consequently, the pieces are not direct illustrations of the stories themselves, but allusive meditations on the thematic elements and how these are still prevalent in contemporary culture.

Kathleen Sawyer
Path of Pins, Kathleen Sawyer, Bitten, 2014

Sawyer’s work, for example, is entitled Bedtime Stories, and is a series of artist’s books entailing interventions such as delicate ballpoint pen drawings and sketchbook cut-outs. The collection comprises 12 artist’s books that take Eurocentric fairy tales as a departure point for a visual discussion of what the artist feels are the most enduring motifs of the chosen narratives.

My intention was to investigate the relevance of the fairy tale genre to a contemporary audience that may not necessarily relate to the archaic references and history of the trope. Focusing primarily on sexuality and gendered power relations, the work identifies how these themes are presented in fairy tales, using this as a non-representational basis for the content of the work – Sawyer.

Kathleen Sawyer
Path of Needles, Kathleen Sawyer, Bitten, 2014

Participating artists include Banele Khoza, Barbara Wildenboer, Stephan Erasmus, Collen Maswanganyi, Angelique Koekemoer, Michael Meyersfield, Bongani Njalo, Martin Onyis, Stephen Rosin, Shenaz Mohamed, Neil Nieuwoudt and Kathleen Sawyer.

Kathleen Saywer
Someday My Prince Will Come, Kathleen Saywer, Bedtime Stories, 2016

BibliophiliaTurning the Pages runs at the Absa Gallery at Absa Towers North, 161 Main Street, Johannesburg, from 5 February 2016 to 10 March 2017. The gallery is open from 08:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday.