Intraparadox: Interview with Lebohang Kganye

Mohlokomedi wa Tora

»On the 30 August 2018 at the Pretoria Art Museum I had the privilege of interviewing Lebohang Kganye on her solo exhibition Mohlokomedi wa Torai. The body of work that she has produced for this project gives two matriarchical perspective of her family narratives from where Ke Sa Le Teng her SASOL New Signatures winning video installation left of.

Mohlokomedi wa Tora Installation 1

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Thank you Lebohang for agreeing to talk to me once more. Uhm, it is a very interesting exhibition from the winning work last year. When I first saw that it is an installation I was struck by the fact that you have included your old man in this exhibition to give us that familiar element in your work. I just wanna ask you, you know, how has it been for your to create a new body of work for this solo project? Having won the prize last year, how did you produce this work?

Lebohang Kganye: I think it is daunting, I think even when I won it, I have been thinking about working in a particular way or experimenting with something very particular which was installation. I have already done it but I have never really resolved it, I have been doing it for the animation pieces and for the photography element uhm people should experience the work in that was, but I have never resolved it how to… because it was temporal, because it was softer cardboard. How to make it stand. Or be more permanent if you can say so was not really resolved. So this was great because it allowed me the time I had a good budget to kinda figure out and experiment with that. So I think it was great because I already had an idea of what I wanted to do was an installation, even though I wanted it to move, and this and this and that, but it was just such a great starting point and I am extremely excited about how this part of it is resolved

(more…)

Mohlokomedi wa Tora

Mohlokomedi wa Tora

Mohlokomedi wa Tora Installation 2

»Lebohang Kganye, SASOL New Signatures 2017 overall winner’s exhibition is up at the Pretoria Art Museum. Her 2017 winning work was groundbreaking in terms of the animation approach she used to make the video installation in telling her family’s journey to Johannesburg. The pop-up book animation effect was pervasive in twofold. While on the one hand it nuanced story telling by way of mimicking leafing through a book during reading it also recalled a stage play mode of representation. Now the results of her winnings which has to be translated into a solo project exhibitions are ready to be perused by all and sundry.

(more…)

Intraparadox: an interview with Banele Khoza

23 March 2016

 

[Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Good morning Banele Khoza]/[Banele Khoza: Hello Mmutle, how are you?]/[Mmutle AK: I am very well thank you, uhm welcome to Intraparadox, ehh I am glad you were able make time and see me ahead of your exhibition at the art museum which has something to do with your feelings, but we get to that point ehh towards the end of our interview. How are you doing man?]/[Banele K: I am good,

{clears throat}

sorry, I am pretty…I am good. I think for me it is such a huge honor for me for this to be happening cause you have mentioned so many times that you will be interviewing someone, interviewing someone and, I think the past years when I heard I was like, ….yoh, I wish I could be in that spot as well, just the same exhibition I think when I saw Vusi’s one last year I was like …woh… I wish I could do this. So for me, I think I am really excited that it has come to my side as well.]/[MAK:  Well I am glad to hear that because everybody has a fair chance to show to the world their artistic contribution and I think for someone who works hard like yourself ehh this is a well deserved opportunity. And ehh maybe we can even say that, as they say, things happen at the right time and at the right moment.  Yah uhm with the formalities out of the way I just want us to go back to the beginning of your life  so that we can sketch your portrait. Uhum where were you born?]

(more…)

Intraparadox: An interview with Ilandi Barkhuizen

The Quadrille of Torture, Pain, Steel and Paint

14 May 2016

 Pretoria Art Museum

 

I spoke to Ilandi Barkhuizen on the morning of 14 May ahead of a group exhibition that will feature her work at the St. Lorient Fashion and Art Gallery on 15 May 2016 until 4 June 2016.

*

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong. Good morning Ilanda Barkhizen, I hope I am pronouncing your name correctly there

Ilandi Barkhuizen. Oh its fine I heard worse (Laughs)

Mmutle AK.  yes, so my pronunciation is on spot?

Ilandi barkhuizen. Yes!

MAK. Thank you, welcome to Intraparadox a platform for interviewing artists of all calibers it really does not matter whether the artist sees themselves as a fully practicing artist or whether as a beginner. The idea of the platform is to try and reveal the person, the artist, the person behind the work and …at the moment I hope you are excited with the exhibition

(more…)

The Quadrille of Torture, Pain, Steel and Paint

Ilandi Barkhuizen

prologue

The preoccupation with the surface area in art making is an integral part of art practice as much as the development of new media is. It is an area that we often don’t give attention to when we look at works of art, yet it is there. It is a pedestal unto which ideas are communicated to us. The ancient artists, the San Hunter Gatherers, understood this; for instance they would use the bulge of the inside of the cave’s surface to express the bump of an antelope in an attempt to mimic form

(more…)

Dye My Memories

Say ''Peace''. Hair dye on canvas.2016

Seboko, Thato. Say Peace, 2016. Hair Dye on canvas. Dimensions not available

I spoke to Thato Seboko on Tuesday 12 April ahead of his solo exhibition opening at the Mellow House Factory in Tshwane, Hatfield. The artist was excited about his upcoming exhibition which will feature a new body of work comprising of 16 artworks. Presently he is working with a new media – hair dye, which is a non traditional art making material and can be looked upon as a new vehicle for artistic expression and thematic enunciation as far as new media is concerned. Since the artist retains a figurative approach in dealing with his subject matter something of fine art tradition is retained with regard to form but the accepted media of delivery is challenged and thus the boundary of art production process pushed further.

(more…)

For Sale Project Exhibition 2012

NOTE

What follows is a speech prepared to open officially the For Sale Project Exhibition 2012. Due to the hype around the exhibition at the evening of 1 August and the throng of people who responded to the opening I never gave this speech. Avoiding the heavy burden of history I instead improvised and picked up the most salient ideas around the exhibition and its aims. The speech as it is reproduced below serves to pay homage to my contemporaries in Pretoria/Tshwane within the visual arts who have been involved in this project over the last decade. It is reproduced herein for all to gain an understanding of our attempts to move visual  art forward in the City of Tshwane.

*

Good evening ladies and gentleman. Artists. Thank you for joining us this evening as we open this year’s installment of the For Sale Project Exhibition. My name is Mmutle Arthur Kgokong, I am a Culture Officer for the City of Tshwane and I am responsible for Education and Development at the Pretoria Art Museum. I feel honored to share this evening with you. I shall not  give a critical commentary on the work that is on show for I believe that criticism in itself is designated to individual speculation as to what art concepts work better than others or which artwork is successful in a given context. Tonight I let you, in your personal capacity to be the judge – to be the connoisseur of fine art.

(more…)

Reorientation of Visual Arts Education in RSA

The Visual Arts in our country needs an overhaul in terms of the behavior of state apparatuses (Educational Structures) specific to foster their continuance. Today the war that is being fought at the political level fetters down to the important structures that have been put in place to guarantee the smooth running of the country.

The war at play is that of opposing ideals in terms dealing with socio-economic challenges, with education as a point of departure. Cohesion is implied not practice. These attitudes, which are indexical to the opposing political parties in South Africa, erect an iron curtain between systems which should be working together for the country’s development. In institutions and government departments each is concerned only with specific area that they are expert in. Lack of acknowledgement of interrelatedness of our varied structures achieves nothing except a growing cynicism. Should the various systems involved in the same area adopt a more positive role and acknowledge their interrelatedness the results will be tremendous in terms of a positive development of our country.

(more…)

Hosea Matlou: Towards Simplicity

It is a privilege for one who has not dedicated one’s self to the pursuit of art practice, one who gathers joy in its consumption through the activity of looking to be afforded the opportunity to be familiar with those who are engaged in the production of the visual art object.

 

I Gestation

Visual Art Production like any other art form attains its full expression as a unique form of individualistic artistic expression now and then when a new talent emerges. It is a duty of those involved in its pursuit of visual art practice to unveil a new artistic language unique to their production in order that they are discernible from the multitudes of other artists. An artist achievement is unquestionable when, through hard work and prolonged search for individuality, arrive at a new artistic language to communicate ideas.

The triumph of an artist is in two respects. First, the artist must contend with their context in their pursuit of their chosen vocation this context differs from artist to artist. Secondly the artists must go through the rigors of mastering their chosen media.

 

With these two aspects conquered only then will the artist settle on a journey of self discovery and invention. These two aspects are here stated in their successive nature: first self discovery and second, invention. In their further elaboration: self discovery is attainable at that juncture when an artists fully embraces their vocation as creative participants in the visual arts and invention will stem from that point in their career when they stumble, more often through trial and error and seldom through luck, at what will be their formal language in art – their unique style. But before we swing wide we must retain and address context and media. Introduced at the first few lines of the present paragraph, context within which artists practice differs from artist to artist. More often it is financial circumstances that must be transcended in order to establish practice. With regard to the mastering of the chosen vehicle to deliver the message, or simply put medium, the artist must learn to acknowledge the artistic approaches laid down before him by his predecessors through Art History; blessed are those who learn directly from the master. Having gathered what is essential from the fountain of art practice, the master that is, the artist through time emerges and charts a unique route of their own. In the long run, through commitment and perseverance the artist will acquire his or her rightful place in the History of Art.

(more…)

Mbongeni R. Buthelezi – Blowing life into plastic

“For me making art is like having an appointment with creativity itself, I am well aware that should I stop working I will never move closer to the objective of art making which through commitment inevitably results in excellence”

– Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi

*In the winter of 1999 I had the pleasure of meeting the late Ntate Durant Sihlali(1935 – 2004) at the Pretoria Art Museum. I remember vividly that it was on a Sunday and the art museum had the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition subtitled: Scientist, Inventor and Artist on show.

What was profound about that day was that  it was the first time I met Durant Sihlali in person and it happened that on the morning of that day prior to leaving my home in Atteridgeville to attend to my duty as a guide at the art museum, I happened; as I always did those days, to view the regular arts and culture programme that was being aired in the early Sunday mornings by the SABC and it was, I tend to think, by divine coincidence they were showing a documentary on Ntate Durant Sihlali. I remember that he was shown pouring paint on hand made paper. Ntate Durant had played a major role in documenting what was going on during the forced removals of the sixties and seventies in the townships of the Reef.

There I was on that Sunday beholding his rather stocky frame perusing Leornado’s anatomical facsimiles in Preiss Hall – one of the Art Museum’s gallery. It was five to six hours later after watching the pre-recorded interview of his. I chanced a greeting and I was delighted when he gave me a friendly reply punctuated by a slow and humbled voice. Such is the delight when an aspiring artist meets an established artists, polarity is established instantly. However my knowledge of Durant Sihlali is rather limited to books for I had only that one brief privilege encounter with him. His contributions to South African art started to flood my mind as time went by for I began to grasp the nature of black South African artists contribution to South African art later in my life.

Warren Siebrits Modern Contemporary Art Gallery has mounted a tribute exhibition to him during April this year. However what sharply stands out about Durant when one surveys his oeuvre is his handling of water paint and evolution towards the abstract form.

Today this heritage, this ability to delve into the non figurative universe can be discerned in one of Durant Sihlali’s pupils at Funda Centre, Mbongeni Buthelezi, who quite recently I have had the pleasure of meeting at his studio at the Seippel Art Gallery in downtown Johannesburg about ten minutes, through Jozi traffic from the Fordsburg Studios.

The studio is pervaded by the burning musk of plastic as he crouches in front of a black and white plastic painting which forms a series, they all burst with white slashes and splashes as if a stone has been thrown into a black solution whose depths are pregnant with a white colour and this colour; when disturbed explodes into various facial expressions and form. Our business in Johannesburg on 31 August 2007 was to introduce Nthabiseng Montshiwa to Ntate Koloane at the Fordsburg Studio. Because of elapsed time due to a burst tire we had to pass by the Seippel Gallery earlier than anticipated for our friend and colleague in the arts the curator of the gallery Mxolisi Xaba had a prearranged call that he was expecting from Europe and had to avail himself at the prescribed time.

Mbobengi welcomed us warmly, until then I had spoken to him on a couple of occasions on the phone last year at about this very time and had met him briefly in March of this year through Mxolisi Xaba. We found him squatting in the large expanse that constitute his studio. There was of course another person in the studio cutting panels on his behalf. By the end of our meeting I will surmise that it must have been his assistant. The piece that he was currently working on was a part of a six series, having rested the gun-like machine he uses to melt his media; for that is exactly what he does – he paints with molten plastic. We shake hands with him. He crosses over to switch off the music playing from a ghetto blaster atop a sofa strewn with sketch diary and some few magazines. The series of black and white plastic paintings he is working on rest against a wall and there is a supply of salvaged used plastic bags, visible one could already pick out coca-cola six pack plastic wrapper, six pack beer wrapper

‘so you are hard at work man’ says I after we have settled. We are not really seated, the images that surround us are overwhelming, it is actually Nthabiseng who is seating.

‘yes man I am hard at work, you know this is what I enjoy, and with the opening of my solo exhibition coming closer there is no time to waste’ says Mbongeni.

‘Tell me, how did you arrive at this point where you are using plastic’ I ask giving in into the alluring question because when one looks at the work it has a thick impasto of oil painting.

‘Lack of materials was a motivating factor, I do not think if I was a privilege artist who had accessibility to traditional art making materials such as oil paints I would not have discovered the art of plastic painting. I was initiated, groomed and trained through the art of watercolour paints.’

‘When I look at some of the pieces resting on the wall I cannot help but see the quality of water colour painting in them, now I understand that you were trained as a watercolorist; this watercolour quality reminds me of the art of Durant Sihlali.’ I observed.

‘Yes indeed, I was trained by him at FUNDA in the eighties when I use to attend art classes after school and later on when I took art seriously in the late eighties; Durant was a very disciplined and strict artist. I remember I once wanted to reject this medium for the simple drawing technique however Bra Durant enforced the media on us. At the time we had to do some plain air water colour painting so I remember I spent some time painting the old hostels in springs. After prolonged periods of practicing with the media I became better and secured in its use, but as I say I would later find it difficult to afford this medium and that is when I discovered the use of discarded plastic and it was not long when I experimented with molten plastic as a painting media.’ He explains at length.

‘Were there any highlights at point in your career?’ I ask

‘Yes when Nhlanhla Xaba won the standard bank young artist award in 1998 I was invited as an exhibiting guest artist. And my work was exhibited along side his. It was a great exposure for me, I could see then that I was going places with my art.’ He maintains.

‘What do you think of Kay Hassan’s work.

‘Well it is wonderful man, using discarded material always presents an opportunity to re-cycle, to give new life to material. Kay uses discarded Billboard paper – he gives new life to it, I forage for discarded plastic bags – I give them a new use, a new form, a new life.’ He affirms.

What one realises when one surveys the artist’s studio, is that the space is in par with what Mbongeni has just remarked. He does indeed recast a new life into plastic…and this is the ideal of the artist’s relation to new media – to breathe new life into it.

Mbongeni Richman Buthelezi’s plastic paintings are on show at the Pretoria Art Museum from 13 May – 16 August 2009.

*this  piece was written in mid 2008 prior to the opening of the exhibition officially in  May 2009.

© 2009 Mmutle Arthur Kgokong