Intraparadox, A Correspondence with Navel Seakamela


03 June 2021

In this interception, done entirely via email correspondence, on the eve of his Solo Exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery, I attempted to locate Navel Seakamela’s art practice. What emerges in our exchange is an artist who has allowed his art practice to take on an open-organic leeway.

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Good morning Morena Seakamela, thank you for making the time to talk to me via email-correspondence about your upcoming solo exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery. I am excited for you. Finally we get to see what you have been working on.

Navel Seakamela: Thank you so much,

Mmutle AK: You are welcome.

Navel S: I’m a bit nervous though. 

MAK: It’s understandable, especially if this is your first solo exhibition. Can you compare the nervousness you feel right now to any of the exhibitions, probably group exhibitions, which you have participated in in the past?

Figure 1. Navel Seakamela. It Takes a Village (2021). Charcoal on paper. 228 x 124cm

NS: I don’t really like being on the spotlight. Solo shows puts artists under the spotlight, whereas with group exhibitions that I have taken part in it was just a common conversation between artists rather than a spot-light kind of thing.

MAK: Indeed, group exhibitions opens up the conversation in many different directions because of its nature of featuring an ensemble (group) of artists. Even though each of the artists exhibiting is concerned with a different theme. Whereas a solo exhibition carries one voice.

NS: A solo exhibition brings a different dynamic to the space and a different perspective, for both the artist and audience. 

MAK: Of course, art is a dialogue that takes place within the artist as they produce work. On another level, the audience bring another level of experience when they interact with the work.

I find your work interesting, especially when I consider the fact that the work you submitted for the For Sale Project 2015 Group Exhibition was print based, if my memory serves me correct that is. Browsing through your portfolio on Instagram you seem to have retained the darker mood when articulating your subject matter, which is mostly figures.

NS: While being isolated due to Covid-19 last year, I went through most of my work and I saw a similar trade mark, which till this day I don’t really have an explanation why it exists within my work but then again I cannot escape from it

MAK: Interesting, so you had some time to reflect on your work and the direction it was taking?

NS: Yes I did, I ended up emphasising the dark tones irrespective of how the world would take it. I also find it easier to have a conversation with the work now than ever.

MAK: I see, so would you say you have reached a comfortable period in your artistic practice?

NS: The thing is we base our self on what should be, we base our perspective on historical views rather than on what’s initially inside of us.

MAK: That’s quite a philosophical observation, so your art is inspired by your internal reaction to the world. I am I with you in observing your work this way?

NS: In a sense I would say yes, but there’s also tomorrow that’s needs to be discovered. In my view you have to do what resonate with you now, tomorrow it might be better or worse.

Seakamela’s solo exhibition Inner-Space, at Nel Gallery was part of August House// Cape Town Collaboration, 23 Jul – 30 Aug 2021,

MAK: Yes the present will always demand our immediate response. But it does work-out better if the manner in which we respond to our condition right now deals with what’s coming tomorrow.

NS: I hear you there, hence the title Reflect. Sometimes, if not every time we become busybodies,  feeding to the general idea of what’s normal to such an extent that we don’t see tomorrow or today. 

MAK: And tomorrow is not fixed yet.

NS: Most definitely, I don’t know if you would recall. You and I had a conversation where you deconstructed the “I”, the self. Our discussion really stuck with me to this day and it changed how I view the world and my surroundings. 

MAK: How generous of you to acknowledge my co-authorship/collaboration in your artistic output approach. It was just a deliberation. However, I am glad if you found value in it.

Let’s talk about the body of work you have prepared for your coming exhibition, Reflect. How many artworks will be featured in this exhibition and how long did it take you to complete them?  

NS: I will have 7 art works on show. It took 7 months or less, please keep in mind that while making these works I was working towards a group exhibition, the works were not initially planned for a solo show.

MAK: Interesting. This inevitably puts you on a spot as you have inferred earlier. However, I am thinking that since your work seem to be on a larger scale it won’t find it difficult to carry your voice.

What is the significance of figures, the black colour and red in your compositions?

NS: It’s something that I found myself doing without really conceptualizing. After working and having conversations with fellow artists; these colours manifested themselves on my work. Strong dark colour and red to tone it down a bit, a sense of femininity in a strong figure! I find that we are emotionally illiterate due to what ever reason that may be. 

MAK: I see, this is a laid back way of art-making process. My initial observation was that the work was dealing with a heavy theme or topic. That your work was dealing with a heavy concept like isolation, companionship, love, identity …It makes sense, your work is a reaction to outside stimuli.

NS: You’re right too, I mean that’s something that I shouldn’t take away from you, sometimes I refrain from interviews because they can take away the independency of how a viewer would reflect on the work if they did not know what it was about. 

MAK: I agree, interviews tend to chip away at the inner meaning of the work. What the work is about is a conversation that the viewer should pick-up for themselves when interacting with the work.

NS: Theme-wise, most people are true to themselves in a dark room, alone or intoxicated 

MAK: Perhaps we need to think of emotions as another part of us that needs to be understood. As such we may stand a chance to evolve as humanity. Do I understand you correct in thinking that you think ‘most people are true to themselves’ when they are in a dark room alone or intoxicated?

NS: I meant to say, people have built walls around how they really feel 

MAK: I agree, we wear particular masks to cope with the situations that life presents to us.

Finally, what would you want the viewers and collectors interested in your work to take away with them after experiencing your exhibition?

Figure 2. Navel Seakamela. Bloomy Day (2021). Charcoal and Acrylic on paper. 116 x 127cm

NS: To actually slow down, sit down and see what is important to them. I started growing plants and flowers and those really needs attention and patience. 

MAK: A meditation on the self. I quite like it. In my limited opinion plants and flowers are a great way of self-actualisation. I think it is time that we incorporate self-reflection as part of our daily lives so that we can fully live

Thank you Morena Seakamela for making the time to talk to me about your upcoming solo exhibition Reflect.

NS: Thank for even considering to have an interview with me, this is highly appreciated. 

MAK: It is a pleasure Morena Seakamela, ke a leboga.

All for the best with the exhibition.

Keep well

NS: Thank you

MAK: Go leboga nna


08 June

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2021

N.B. Navel Seakamela’s Solo Exhibition Reflect can be seen at Kalashnikovv Gallery, Braamfontein–Johannesburg, 70 Juta Street. It runs until the end of June 2021. 

*I remain indebted to Navel Seakamel for making a space for us to write to each other on the morning of 3 June 2021. it is a contact that afforded me the opportunity to make sense of the direction his work has taken. Ke a leboga.

+All images have been used with permission of the artist, and their respective gallery and may not be re-used without consent of the artist.**Graphics for the blog post teaser poster, Mmutle Arthur Kgokong.

*Original portrait photo of Navel Seakamela by Dan Bakkes

To reference, Cite this text:

Kgokong, M.A. 2021Intraparadox, A Correspondence with Navel Seakamela: Inner-Space.

List of Figures

Figure 1. Navel Seakamela. It Takes a Village (2021). Charcoal on paper. 228 x 124cm

Figure 2. Navel Seakamela. Bloomy Day (2021). Charcoal and Acrylic on paper. 116 x 127cm