Intraparadox: Interview with Lebohang Kganye

On the 30 August 2018 at the Pretoria Art Museum I had the privilege of interviewing Lebohang Khanye 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

»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

Continue reading “Intraparadox: Interview with Lebohang Kganye”

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Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu (Part Two): Towards a Concrete Concept

Senzo. I met good artists at the classes offered by the Johannesburg Art Gallery, one guy Blessing Ngubeni I also met him there. He works here now. So we were kept busy drawing each other, doing portraits. I enjoyed it very much…

Mmutle. This is in 2006

Senzo. Yes, it was nice because I did not know… I never went to a place where they could offer a free art lesson, also free art material. I mean I just went there without anything so they gave us pencils and whatnot, we were seating and just drawing. Hanging around a group of artists it was also …blood to me, I felt like, very very good. For the first time in Jo’burg I was making friends and I was around people I could relate to. Sometimes we would seat and do portraits. I don’t know if I can jump to that place but what happened I found out now about those art classes they used to call them Taxi Art Classes. But back then I did not know that those art classes were funded by David Krut.

Mmutle. So you only learnt about this later…?

Senzo. I found out maybe two years ago or so. I was just chatting to David about that period of my life and he said ‘I was actually the one who funded the materials’

Location: LL Editions Fine Art Printing, The Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: Friday 28 November 2014 at 09:00

 

 

Senzo Njabulo Shabangu I came to Johannesburg with a dream to become a pilot. I spent close to six months looking for academies. Ai I think it was really tough because I applied for bursaries as my father couldn’t afford to pay for the course  because it’s very very expensive. So I was in Johannesburg for six months up until my older brother and Robben Smith, the owner of the house in Kensington, one day asked me why I don’t look for an art school since I drew every day instead of wasting my time to become a pilot.

Mmutle AK. So now, here we are moving into a situation whereby you are actually coming into contact with art formally.

Senzo NS. so they just ask me that question ‘why don’t you

Mmutle. pursue art?

Senzo. …pursue art, Yes, it was like they just opened up something for me. The following day they advise me to walk around Newtown and check Art Schools en go to UJ (University of Johannesburg) to check if I can apply for a fine art qualification. I woke up, came to town, went to Newtown. But before I found my way to Newtown I had to start at Carlton Center. At Carlton I met a group of artists by chance drawing in the open space. They also had an exhibition as well. I spoke to them about my interest in an art career and they told me that there were some art classes offered by the Johannesburg Art Gallery on Fridays and Thursdays. I went there to enquire, but it was easy, the moment you arrive there they just said ‘sit down’ and gave you paper to start drawing….

Continue reading “Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu (Part Two): Towards a Concrete Concept”

Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu (Part One): Today, Tomorrow, Everyday

Mmutle. What was your experience of the, of the first solo exhibition that you had …and when was it?

Senzo. My first solo exhibition I called it I ‘Naked Pressure’ it was in 2010 if I am not mistaken, because I met David Krut, no 2011, I met David Krut uhm, uhm after I won the David Koloane Award in 2010. Trhough the award I acquired a working space here at the Bag Factory for three months. I was working with three international artists, one from Holland and one from Germany. For the first time uBaba koloane, I call him Doctor Koloane, Pat Mautloa, these people were here, they were around me and they were mentoring me, being there molding me. In the morning before we worked they will have coffee with me and they will talk to me. They gave me the opportunity to explore what I wanted to explore.

Location: LL Editions Fine Art Printing, The Bag Factory, Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: Friday 28 November 2014 at 09:00

Mmutle Arthur Kgokong: Well I just want to thank you Senzo for giving me the time to talk to you especially here in the studio, not at your home where you will be bombarded with house chores (jokingly).

Senzo Njabulo Shabangu: (laughs) true

Mmutle AK: Yah, here it’s much better because it is your work space.

Senzo NS: Yes we can, …I understand, we can…

Mmutle: At the moment you are here at The Bag Factory neh?

Senzo: Yes

MAK: You are working on a new body of work? Tell me what is the work about actually in terms of the content of what you are dealing with for this new body of work?

Senzo. It’s like, I have been dealing a lot with issues of Joburg pressure because to me it is easy to realize that pressure the city has. So since I came here (in) 2006 I have been feeling that pressure like …at home when you are in the city they have their own expectations and as an artist it is also difficult. It is difficult for everyone the way a city designed because it’s got that pressure and for me as someone who comes outside of the city it’s easy for me to feel that pressure.

Continue reading “Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu (Part One): Today, Tomorrow, Everyday”

Diary entry: Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu#28/11/Twenty14.

Although I cannot speak with authority at the moment, but what emerged was an interrogation of the dwelling space, the flat, as a contested space between those who rent and those who lease

Senzo@work

Ï spent part of today’s morning at the Bag Factory, LL Editions Fine Arts Printmaking Studio in Newtown, Johannesburg, interviewing Senzo Njabulo Shabangu. He is currently working on a new body of work for an upcoming exhibition next year in September. ‘The exhibition is both here and in New York. I have decided to work in different spaces in order to broaden my horizon as an artist’  he states as he looks around him.

His studio is in Jan Smuts Avenue at David Krut Print Workshop. It is always such an honor to be afforded the opportunity to be immersed in the life of an artist. The next step is to make the interview accessible to you. This means the wordathonian chuchu train will be churning away behind the wordmachiniacon over the next weeks. If there is anything that emerged from my interview with Senzo was a sneak behind the vanishing corner of what theoretically his work could be about; Although I cannot speak with authority at the moment, but what emerged was an interrogation of the dwelling space, the apartment, the urban flatlands, as a contested space between those who rent and those who lease. I hope that later on, your reading of the interview will help us make headway either towards affirming this theoretical perspective or its refutation.

Interview with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu @BagFactoryII 28112014

Summer

28 November

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2014

mmutleak@gmail.com

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Mbongeni R. Buthelezi – Blowing life into plastic

There I was on that Sunday beholding his rather stocky frame perusing Leornado’s anatomical facsimiles in Preiss Hal – 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.

“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