Artist depicts a land of milk and honey

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TO NDR ART1. Supplied Indlu kagogo by Joseph Manana.

THE artworks of emerging Durban artists can be seen at the African Art Centre in the exhibition Emerging Eyes – Qal’ukhobona #3. From paintings, works on paper, photographs, embroideries, beadwork to sculpture and ceramics, art lovers are in store for a treat.

According to a press release, Emerging Eyes showcases the work of new artists who attended The Business of Art courses presented by Curate.a.Space and sponsored by the National Arts Council.

This course is targeted at artists who need the skills and contacts to enter the art world.

Tonight chatted to Joseph Manana and Mfundo Mthiyane who are among the artists whose work is on display.

Manana says his love for art grew when he was in high school: “When I was in Standard 8 (Grade 10), one of the teachers saw my talent and asked the principal if he could introduce art as a subject.

“That is how it began for me and I soon made a career out of it. After matric, I moved to Durban and was involved in the community artwork shop.”

Manana says his work in the exhibition represents a land of milk and honey.

“My involvement in art is merely to spread awareness and educational issues. So I focus on people and our surroundings. I was very concerned with the situation of child and woman abuse, violence, rape, drug use and so on.

“So my concept of milk and honey is looking at the freedom that democracy has given us, yet we tend to abuse it. We are not using it in the right way. So I deliver certain messages.

“I’m complaining about the situations that happen around us. I want people to look at the art and it must be an investment. People must look at my work and get a message out of it.”

Mthiyane has also created artworks from an early age.

He explains: “My uncle is an artist, Thokozani Mthiyane. He used to paste papers on the door and provide crayons for me to draw, so I would also have something to work on when he was busy creating an artwork.

“I love painting figures in space and being occupied by everyday life activities. In a nutshell, my work at the African Art Centre represents everyday life issues.”

With a preferred medium of acrylic paint, Mthiyane says his ideas come from people, animals, buildings and landscapes of his township, Kwadabeka.

He says he sometimes takes pictures of people with his cellphone, transfers them to his laptop and enhances the colour of the image using Photoshop. “Then I start painting from the reference on the screen of my laptop.”

Speaking of the challenges he faced as a young, up-and-coming artist, he says: “The biggest obstacle I’ve faced so far was being broke, because my art was not getting sold. That led to extreme mood swings, stress, despair and creative blocks.

“That is when I decided to fuse graphic/web design and fine art to survive, so I know where to fall when things don’t go well with one aspect of my work”


• The exhibition runs at the African Art Centre in Durban until Saturday. Call 031 303 4634.

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