Artists probe the ‘Past, Present, and Future’

Falida Nkomo’s art titled After Seven is one of the works currently on display at the “Qoqiqiniso: Archives of the Past, Present, and Future” art exhibition at the Springs Art Gallery. | Supplied

Falida Nkomo’s art titled After Seven is one of the works currently on display at the “Qoqiqiniso: Archives of the Past, Present, and Future” art exhibition at the Springs Art Gallery. | Supplied

Published Apr 22, 2024


The third annual Umsizi noPende Visual Arts Project Competition has shone the light on the country’ visual arts sector following the prestigious awards ceremony held at the Springs Art Gallery this past week.

This year’s competition was fierce after more than 20 shortlisted artists, culled from a staggering 250 applications, participated in workshops led by The Arts Company Soweto (TACS).

Their work culminated in a powerful group exhibition titled “Qoqiqiniso: Archives of the Past, Present, and Future”, on display at the Springs Art Gallery until May 31.

Three young artists emerged victorious with their artworks which captured the very essence of South Africa’s past, present, and future.

Hoek Swaratlhe’s awe-inspiring multi-coloured silkscreen series struck gold, earning him the coveted R20 000 prize. Swaratlhe’s work is not just art but has been tagged as social commentary.

Through his lens, we witness the fascinating transformation of Soweto’s matchbox houses iconic structures that embody the township’s evolving architectural landscape. Swaratlhe delves deeper, exploring how ownership of these spaces transforms with each generation.

“I am specifically focusing my visual research on the so-called match-box houses,” Swaratlhe said.

“These architectural structures... are iconic functional homes for working-class Black communities in pre-apartheid South Africa. My work further investigates the changing architectural landscape of the township and the different kinds of ownership by newer and younger generations of inhabitants.”

Another winner, Kwandiwa Dlwati, whose evocative ink and acrylic paintings resonated with the judges, landed the Bronze prize of R8 000.

Arts pundits say Dlwati’s work is not afraid to confront harsh realities as his powerful works depict the chilling impact of load shedding on South African communities, plunging viewers into the inky blackness of a township blackout.

Dlwati’s masterful use of light and shadow draws art lovers in, forcing them to confront the challenges faced by communities under his brush.

“I use different hues and contrast to lure the viewer in to walk the metaphorical dark streets embedded within my work. I reflect on the community’s metamorphic qualities. This investigation through my artistic perspective enables one to gain a portal to the community, allowing viewers to locate themselves within the labyrinth while also getting lost in my experimentation.”

Falida Nkomo, the only female recipient, walked away with both the Silver Prize (R12 000) and the coveted Public Voters; Choice Prize (R10 000).

Her captivating printmaking technique utilizes layered monotypes and historical imagery, weaving a visual tapestry that explores themes of belonging, and the struggles of navigating foreign borders. Nkomo’s work compels us to question what it truly means to feel at home.

Nkomo offers this insight into her creative process: “My practice is focused on printmaking and how layering through monotypes becomes a language to express this idea of belonging in a place that seems foreign to the subjects used. The process evokes how one’s concept of home is being menaced by foreignness and mass movement.”

The Star

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