Durban — KwaZulu-Natal artist Sifiso Ngcobo, 49, made history with his art serving as three-dimensional murals (backdrops) at Dr Pixley Ka-Isaka Seme Hospital in KwaMashu.
Born in KwaMashu and growing up in Inanda and Ntuzuma, Ngcobo said that this opportunity was one of his career highlights after his painting of Nelson Mandela.
In his childhood, township politics was rife and his family moved him away from Inanda to Ntuzuma for safety. He then grew to establish his talent through hairdressing, but his love and talent for art led him to study art at Centech College.
His heart for art grew even stronger as he experimented with various textured materials, leading him to his unique art signature of three-dimensional paintings made from mixtures of powders and water-based resin, which achieves a bring-to-life effect in his artworks. The artworks typically look like sculptures in a painting.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans made three-dimensional paintings of Bible figures, history and heroes, carving stones and clay, whereas he has made his work stand out by depicting South African icons, landscapes, nature and architecture.
The artist, who is a father of five children, said that he grew up in a big family that loved all forms of art. His brother is the popular musician and producer, Mondli Ngcobo.
He said that he is inspired by his family and nature, and also draws inspiration from anyone who looks on the brighter side of life.
He appreciates any being, believing even a “mentally challenged person” in one’s neighbourhood can surprise you with great advice, and someone who is thought to have “no life” can give you a certain aspect of humanity that you may not have imagined.
He said this means no one is to be taken for granted and we can all draw inspiration from one another. It is paramount to find strength in each other, as people, despite our different circumstances, association and backgrounds.
The artist, who has travelled and exhibited his God-given talent in Leeds, London, Belgium, Germany and Chicago, US, believes that there is still so much more to do. He says he owes his success to God himself, nature for inspiration, those who have supported and propelled him to date, culture, family, friends, clients, corporate and government institutions.
“The fact that I was able to find my medium and perfect it is a great success on its own. I sell my portraits and abstract art privately, sometimes commissioned for auctions, and whatever I make out of these sales is always appreciated. However, money is not the only end that I have to achieve.
“The opportunity to produce my work for the Dr Pixley Ka-Isaka Seme Hospital affirmed the magnitude and extent of my art capability; this is far more fulfilling. The two gigantic (each +/- 27m x 10m) murals, are the beginning of my success. I thank MADE (Mzansi Arts Development Ensemble) and Enzo Construction for the opportunity they gave us as local creatives/ artists at the INK area,” he said.
He also said that he wanted his artworks, such as these, to be experienced in open public spaces and as tourist attractions, having artworks that look as big as a mountain to the naked eye, at places around our country and internationally.
“I’m currently working on art projects with the Octavia Boutique Hotel. I couldn’t be more proud as an INKborn and bred artist to collaborate with an INK world-class tourist attraction, watch this space.
“In the art industry, discrimination is there, but it is rarely seen. When it comes to companies, buyers or investors in the arts, decide to label and judge the artist instead of their work. An artwork must be loved for what it is and not for who the artist is.
“My artworks speak to anyone, as even the blind can appreciate my art through the 3D effect. Through exhibitions, my work has proved to be loved by the young, the old, the poor, the rich, educated or not and despite race, culture, or sexual orientation. It speaks to all, regardless,” Ngcobo said.
Ngcobo advised that aspiring artists must bear in mind that it takes passion, perseverance, a pure heart and soul to make it in the arts industry. He also said he believes that being given an opportunity is an inspiration on its own. Therefore, we must all open doors for the up-and-coming artists and youth so that they can find such inspiration, to reach their potential and succeed within the industry.
With enthusiasm, Ngcobo said: “I do not want to be rich only when I am dead, but would like to live well and be remembered as an artist who made history through his talent, who realised his full potential and took art to another level. I am an artist who loves what he does, beyond its financial gains and losses.”
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