Acrylic paintwork by Mthobisi Maphumulo.

BEING an artist and struggle almost always go hand in hand, especially when one is in the infancy of a career in this field. And for a group of emerging young Durban artists, it seems struggle is what pushes them on.

Determined to get to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown – and having been turned down for funding – they’ve decided they won’t throw in the towel, but instead press on with their cause: to spread the message of their art.

As a result, Durban can enjoy the Ababhemu exhibition on June 16. It is a collective effort by Lwazi “Zorro” Xaba (photography), Sthenjwa Luthuli (print artwork), Mthobisi Maphumulo (acrylic painting) and Gabriel Mahlangu (performing art/contemporary dance).

Tonight caught up with Bright Dimba, assistant curator, to find out more about this “mixed exhibition”.

“As we celebrate 20 years of democracy in our country, and the National Arts Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary, we once again look forward to participating on this platform, after last year’s successful Abantwana exhibition. Ababhemu is a collective effort by Zorro, Sthenjwa, Mthobisi and Gabriel. Driven by visual art at large, the mixed exhibition of paintings, prints and photography looks at the past and our future, influenced by the present-day perspectives of how we… perceive freedom and the rights of action, especially the youth,” he explained.

Dimba said because the exhibition is a mixed-medium event, they’ve called it Ababhemu. “When roughly translated, this speaks of different characters coming together. Gabriel will do the opening for the event. He’ll be performing a short contemporary dance piece. Overall the dominating theme is to centre it around commemorating 20 years of democracy in South Africa.

“So the photographic, fine art and performance will speak to social issues and everyday life. The performance and exhibition is a dry run before the group go to the National Arts Festival, where they will exhibit at Steve Mbiko Memorial. There is a possibility of the mixed exhibition touring post the arts festival but these dates and venues are still being finalised,” he added.

The Ababhemu preview exhibition takes place on June 16 at The Sushi Corner in Glenwood. There is no entry fee, but this would be an opportunity for locals to come out and support these young artists by possibly buying an artwork or sponsoring part of their costs to get to Grahamstown.

• The event starts at 5.30pm. More information at 082 041 6842.