Sifiso Mkhabela is a contemporary metal Sculptor. Picking up the welder and the grinder was not just an artistic choice for him, his work is inspired by his father, who is a boiler maker and that is why working with metal became second nature to him.
Drawing inspiration from his childhood memories, working with metal is hard work and watching his father work tirelessly over the years and never giving up really helped him form the solid ground that he stands on as a sculptor today. He regards metal is a medium that speaks volumes to because it is used in almost everything we used in our daily lives, metal is the back bone of our entire infrastructure.
His sculptures are distinct by his use of geometric forms and organic structures. Hybridity shines as a powerful tool of transformation and reconstruction of existing concepts to create new exciting structures. His point of view is inspired by mathematical and scientific concepts and philosophy thought by Plato where he said “The physical world is a poor decaying copy of a perfect, rational and changeless original world. ” Platonism is a contemporary view that there are abstract objects that do not exist in time or space, my work is an attempt to represent these abstract objects taking from my childhood experience.
Here’s a deeper look into the inspiration and formation of Sifiso Mkhabela’s art:
How do you define yourself as a contemporary artist and what inspired you to become a visual artist?
“My studio experience defines me, I communicate using visual art, my studio is where I spend most of my time creating thus communicating. My medium is sculpture, it is not easy to difine myself as a contemporary artist because you can do a lot things within the industry such as performance and installation art. I see the process of creating my sculptures as a performance itself because I do a lot of walking around in the studio.”
What makes your art unique?
“I have always been creative, my work is inspired by my childhood memories. But my interest in metal works comes from my father, he is a boiler maker and watching him work over the years plays a huge role in my art creation today. But the main concept that I am working on takes from Platonism.”
What creative projects or pieces are you currently working on?
“I am currently in the process of creating a 3m metal sculpture for a exhibition called “Sculptures on the Cliff” a public sculpturere exhibition that is going to be curated by Gordon Froud. I am also going to be working with Blessing Ngoben on a public sculpture commission.
What do you feel the next step should be for the contemporary art industry in South Africa?
“The industry is really energetic and at its peak at the current moment, the quality of work and the commitment of artsists is amazing. The next step is to open up to new fresh artists so that the industry and it’s opportunies can be utilized to its fullest potential in order to grow. I think the industry is in a good space and more investments should be poured into the creation of art.
What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?
“This is a letter that I had to write to the 22 year old me as part of a charity exhibition curated by Banele Khoza at the Absa Gallery which is currently running until the end of February. This is what I said:
There is still so much to learn and experience. It is an on going journey, take your time to learn and unlearn, have faith that all you learn from the work that you do will benefit you. Put in long hours, read as much as you can and research more. Make mistakes because they will continously evolve you as an artist and human being. It is all part of who you become. It won’t be easy, you will have to make sacrifices, you will have exhibitions, a lot of them but not in all of them you will sell and that will make you question what you are going for. Be prepared to be broke and not have food some nights. You won’t always have money to keep producing more art. Be prepared to reset, readjust and reset yourself every time you fail. Stay on the creative path even though you will wish to quit most of the time. You will push on through.
There is no rush, know your phase and do not compare yourself to other artists. Worry less about not being able to put things together quickly. Explore mediums, enjoy being a creative mind, find a mentor, look for any opportunities that you can be exposed in a creative field. Donate your time if you can. Help someone get ahead and know that the contacts and experience will remain priceless… Be happy all the time.”
Follow Sifiso on:
Facebook: Mkhabela Sifiso.