Illustrator and graphic designer Sindiso Nyoni’s next to a Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips
The art FNB Joburg art fair at Sandton Convention Centre brings together the work of six commissioned local contemporary artists whose exhibits will soon be on permanent display at the South African Mint. 

Illustrator and graphic designer Sindiso Nyoni had his picture of retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt captured in action. Talking about the assignment, he said: “They approached six artists and said this is the project we’re working on.

The Krugerrand is celebrating 50 years and they wanted to commission six art pieces, so it was carefully curated and strategic.

“The moment I got fits in well with my style of illustration and my style of art,” said Nyoni.

His influence is on comic art and graphic novels, so his style is a fusion.

“I am a graphic designer by profession but I focus a lot on illustration. So that comes through with this kind of work. I do a lot of graphic and poster art. I have a very strong social commentary background, I am very much an activist. I am originally from Zimbabwe, born in Bulawayo. I have been here for the past 12 years, so I do tackle some of the issues of the continent which a lot of people would shy away from through art,” said Nyoni.

With a robust social commentary background, Nyoni believes it is important for artists to express themselves through their artistry.

Talking about his expected reaction from audiences, he said what he’d like for one to see first is the graphic style incorporated in the piece.

“I feel as artists we have a responsibility to reflect on the times that we’re living in and the power that we possess. Because I spent a short time in advertising, the power of persuasion is something that can come naturally. So that’s another aspect of the work I do.”

Speaking about the detail of the art piece, Nyoni said he wanted to depict Bolt in the form of a superhuman.

The texture of what would be Bolt’s body, which depicts hardness, strength, and a regal spirit, all are influences in what he wanted to portray in the art piece itself.

Nyoni made this strikingly deliberate because this is a style that he works in, so a lot of his work gives off that quality. Immediately if someone is knowledgeable of his work, they would most likely be able to recognise that it is his.

“For me, he (Usain Bolt) is a normal human being but he has superhuman attributes. So that lent themselves to my inspirations in terms of the graphic novels and comic art, where I grew up reading about superheroes so I decided to depict him in that sense.

“That is the point any artist would want to reach - that their style is recognisable. And I think I’ve been working in this style as a preferred medium. Although I’m a trained designer professionally, I can work in different and appropriately different styles but this is the style I think people have now known me to adopt.”

Commenting on the exhibition, Tumi Tsehlo, MD, South African Mint said “The exhibition brings together works by renowned South African artists and highlights the pioneering spirit of human empathy, endeavours and endurance, also synonymous with the Krugerand”.   

“These works speak to you and make you feel like a participant in the journey.”

Images: Clive Hassall Photography