Artistic journey into process of self-expression

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IN a personal exhibition, visual arts student Andrew Swanepoel (known as Swany) presents a visual narrative depicting his journey as an art student at Unisa. The exhibition is titled Visualising the Creative Process – mappings of the academic journey of an art student and runs at artSPACE Gallery until May 24.

A press release states that through the presentation of Swany’s academic record, the artist provides a visual mapping of a journey undertaken as well as a study of the creative process.

Durban’s Swany always retains the characteristics of performance art in his pieces and works across disciplines.

In an interview with Tonight, the artist explains the significance behind his exhibition.

“The exhibition consists of my work as a student and, by its nature, is very raw and experimental. It is a wonderful combination of sculpture, embroidery, mark making (painting and sketching), recorded performances and digital images.

“This exhibition marks my transition from art student to art professional and provides me with closure as well as an opportunity to celebrate my graduation.

“The Unisa art programme is an extremely prestigious one and therefore a very exacting one. It focuses on basing art-making on conceptualisation and research and installs these processes in its students. Rather than specialising, as fine arts students do, in painting, sculpture or drawing, we focus on the conceptual and are therefore quite comfortable crossing disciplines.

“This results in artists who create work that is contemporary and very layered and informed. Simply put, we ask questions of the viewer rather than providing them with the banal.”

Having exhibited at the KZNSA Gallery, artSPACE Durban and the Collective, Swany wants to make a living doing what he loves, making art.

“I have found my artist’s voice as a result of my studies, so I hope to engage visually in conversation with the world around me, and hopefully people will find it interesting enough to engage with my art. Finally, I would like to pass on my love of and for art, so I will be studying for my Master’s next year with the hope of getting a lecturing post in the future,” he says.

Where do his ideas come from?

“There is this idea that artists have to receive divine inspiration (there are occasions though) in order to create their work. If artists had to sit about hoping for that ‘lightning bolt’ moment there would be very little art in existence, trust me.

“The fantastic thing about the Unisa art degree is that you are taught processes which enable you to create.”

Those who attend his exhibition will see it has a retrospective feel to it because it encompasses a past body of work (2010 to 2013).

“I think I can quite safely say they will never have experienced an exhibition like mine. I am pretty sure the opportunity to view the creative process in its entirety and in such detail does not often occur.

“Because of its academic grounding, there are various narratives and dialogues on display as well as references to the art history discourse,” he adds.

• The exhibition runs at artSPACE Gallery until May 24. Call 031 312 0793.

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