Visual Artist, Cassius Khumalo reflects on his artwork as it investigates the spiritual realm.

Cassius Khumalo is a visual artist whose captivating charcoal drawings call us to investigate civilization, religion and how we define ourselves through spiritual magnanimity. He’s given us the opportunity to unpack his journey through the visual arts and learn more about his latest works.

How do you define yourself as a visual artist  and what inspired you to become one?

I am a man of African traditional customs, growing up being taught to listen to my elders as they have a strong sense of spiritualism, I grew up burning incense  (Imphepho), it was a regular thing either for enlightenment or anything related to connecting to ancestral world. This has become a vital part of my personal journey as a creative person, I found myself drown to study and scrutinize the environment around African ceremonies and rituals from across the scope of performance.

What makes your art unique?

My works are influence by different parts of human culture, in different cultural environments, different religious traditions and time. By combining all this, it results in new and different images, of course not to side line the technical way of handling chalk materials to achieve final portrayal which is a skill I have.

What creative projects are you currently working on? 

I am currently participating in two running  group shows first one at Candice Berman Gallery titled CLOUD-CUCKOO-LAND a realm of fantasy and the second show at Gallery Fanon at Maboneng Johannesburg, lastly it’s a continous project of self realization through my art.

What do you feel the next step should be for the contemporary art industry in South Africa?

Allowing more artists to get knowledge from higher institutions so they learn more about the history of art especially Africa art, I believe that would be a game changer yet till then, I am proud of the direction we heading so far.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them? 

First, acknowledge the basics then learn from the past and present artist, it doesn’t have to be many but those who you relate to and what inspires or fascinates you as a person. The final one be yourself and follow your intuition, hence it’s important that you remain closest to your God, he is master of all craft.

Follow Cassius on:

Facebook: @Cassiustheartist Khumalo

Instagram: @cassiustheartist

Hanwah on music as emotional exploration and her upcoming EP as a love letter to her inner child.

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UK born artist Hanwah, is multi-disciplinary artist and producer currently living in Eswatini. Her fusion of jazz sounds coupled with her masterful use of the keyboard and vocals make her a sonic genius. A Hanwah J performance is hypnotic and enduces a healing trance state which we got to witness at our 2019 Creative Union event at Botaki Ba Afrika. She shares her journey in music with us.

How do you define yourself as a musician and what inspired you to become one?

My musical expression is often an emotional exploration, I use it as a therapy and to better understand myself. I also use it to remind myself of my power and potential. I was blessed to be nurtured in music as a child and I grew up singing jazz in restaurants with my dad who is a jazz pianist.

What makes your music unique?

Although I wouldn’t call myself a Jazz artist, I always pay homage to that foundation, and fuse it with whatever is resonating with me at the time. I have such a broad sphere of influence so its quite hard to catorgarise my productions.

What inspired your latest project and what do you want people to take from it?

Recent events in my life opened a channel for some inner child work and in doing so I learned to hold those parts of myself that where abandoned in youth. My upcoming EP, entitiled “I Love You Little Witch” is a love letter to my inner child. It narrates her journey through relationships with herself and others, from naive infatuation, to destructive love, self love and ultimately to abundant love. I am releasing each track month by month until October in collaboration with some incredible visual artists. I hope that people watching and listening feel apart of the journey, and love the Little Witch as much as I am learning to! I also hope that it inspires people to see the power in vulnerability, and that every story has equal value, no matter the journey.

What do you feel the next step should be for the music and art industry in Southern Africa?

I just feel Southern African artists should continue embracing themselves in abundant authenticity. Retain mother tongues, retain traditional sounds, retain songs of freedom. The world is watching, now is the time for African artists and I’m here for it!

What would you say to upcoming musicians to inspire them?

Don’t abandon yourself. Your story has value. Keep pushing into dominated spaces and show them what they are missing without you there.

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Connect with Hanwah on:

Instagram: hanwah_j

Facebook: Hanwah

Bandcamp: Hanwah.Bandcamp

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/hanwah1

Youtube: https://bit.ly/2PB0eO8

Textile designer Odirile Khune explores self identity through fibre art.

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Odirile Khune Motsiri is a textile design graduate and full time artist who creates mixed media fibre art that explores themes of identity. He shares his journey on the evolution of his mixed media works.

How do you define yourself as a visual artist and what inspired you to become one?

I am inspired by self identity of living in  the contemporary culture of South Africa. Growing up in different towns in the Pretoria brought about my interest in the ethnicity of people, how we might be in the same area but how different our cultures are and how they define who we are. I address these issues in my work reflecting on self identity in contrast with others around me.

What makes your art unique?

The uniqueness of my work lies in the way I use collage and bricolage techniques to create abstract expressionistic portraits.

What creative projects are you currently working on?

My current series of work is titled ‘Sustainable Identity’ which reflects on past experiences as the thoughts and ideas that makes up who we are. This is done by means of upcycling fabric and other materials. The denim and other fibre are a representation of those passed experiences and ultimately bearing it as part of our identity hence the depiction of portraits composed of these collected items. I’m also busy with a couple of long term projects which involve producing soft sculptures which investigates how these collected materials communicate with each other when subjected to take a sculpture form.

What do you feel the next step should be for the art and entertainment industry in South Africa?

I think the visual art industry needs to put in place more active structures to interact with local upcoming artist and to build a viable community where corporate can meet with artist and can interact with each other in a more cohesive manner.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?

I would like to say to my fellow upcoming visual artists and those who are shying away from their gift is that you wouldn’t be given the dreams you have if you did not have it in you to archive those ideas. The secret is to not stop dreaming and believing in yourself.

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Photography by Thomas Chauke

Follow Odirile on:

Instagram: o.Khune

Filmmaker, Temitope Ajileye aka DirXTope on his craft and maintaining authenticity in storytelling.

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Popularly known by his signature ‘DirxTope’, Temitope Ajileye is a Pretoria based filmmaker who honors his West African roots in his craft. He shares the journey behind his mundane yet captivating storytelling with us.

How do you define yourself as a visual artist and what inspired you to become one?

Film for me is being a custodian of time and I am still in the process of defining my artform because each project comes with different expectation and challenges. If there is anything constant that I always want my work to embody is truth in the sense that I always try to tell stories in a very honest manner. Which means adding very little to a scene, a turning of light rather than turning on light. I simply just want my work to be mundane and hold an authentic feeling.

What makes your art unique?

Whether its perspective or style I always look for something that would stand out and appeal to anyone on a worldwide level spear heading my projects with an identity of cultures, borrowing from the Western Africa and South African elements to create
visuals makes my work unique because this are two parts of the continent that has formed my experience of art and humanity.

What creative projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on several projects under my own production company that is self-funded varying from Documentary, Experimental films and Music videos which I share across my social media platforms and website.

What do you feel the next step should be for the art and entertainment industry in South Africa?

Many people in South Africa are still marginalised to the extent that they feel that their stories and art do not matter, I look at how storytelling in a structured environment can help these stories to emerge. By telling their stories, marginalised South Africans can become part of the grand narrative of post-apartheid South Africa and filmmakers can tap into this rich vein of previously-unheard narratives. In encouraging storytelling, art and filmmaking in grassroots communities, we can also build a film culture and the kind of community filmmaking that I mentioned before, not to mention building audiences for South African stories. So it’s a win-win.

The biggest challenge we still yet to overcome is that filmmakers in South Africa chase

the ‘great South African film’ and international recognition, instead of concentrating on telling our own stories in our own unique way, and developing a South African aesthetic.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?

Don’t over think your ideas just do it, when you have something to show people you shorten the conversation and you increase your chances of being trusted as a creative so I simply say
“BE A DOER”

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Follow DirXTope on:

Instagram: dirxtope
Twitter: @dirxtope
Website: http://www.aserstudio.co.za/

Odette Graskie shares emotional experiences and storytelling through drawings and immersive fabric installation artworks.

OM Graskie (8)Odette Graskie is a visual artist whose art aims to explore emotional experiences and storytelling. She aims to create work that celebrates humanity and the essence of being human, while facing everyday dilemmas such as grief and loss. Balancing this loss and making art about it is a process of healing, and focusing on the beauty of something beyond oneself becomes healing in itself. Her drawings and immersive installation artworks made with fabric are a fresh breath of air as you walk into a room. Her latest body of work, The Sorrows, is an exploration of the way that pain can sometimes be the only factor that reminds us that we are alive. We had the opportunity to learn a little more about her and her journey in the contemporary visual art industry.

How do you define yourself as a visual artist  and what inspired you to become one?

I have always loved art. When I was a kid my mom had a book about 2000 visual artworks that changed the world and I always paged through it. Sometimes I think the actual decision to study art came down to the movie Pleasantville. One of the characters introduces painting to the black and white world of Pleasantville and they all are so moved by the painting that they are forever changed into colourful fully-rounded people. As an artist myself I feel like if I can have such an effect on one person’s mind in the slightest, that is a success. I want people to feel things that adulthood sometimes deny us like playfulness, joyfulness, or other times acknowledging our dark side, these are my favourite things to strive towards.

What makes your art unique?

I think I have a very emotional connection to my process, and when you work like that it is almost about transcribing a part of your being, or giving a piece of yourself to viewers. When artists trust their intuition, beautiful things can happen. My work consists of two parts – work on paper and installation. My installations are about making people pay attention. When they enter an installation space, it’s about their visceral reactions, how they actually put down their phone for a second and take part in something that’s beyond their everyday while also focussing on something very everyday – such as the experience of a memory or trauma that they don’t always want to acknowledge, or even just becoming playful and acknowledging their inner child. I’m still pretty new to the medium but I learn more every day. In terms of drawing, I like to focus on the people I interact with, or sometimes just pass in the streets. It’s my turn to pay attention. I capture something, whether it’s their overall impression, or a cute nose, or the way they set their mouths; and pay attention to people in a way that no stranger ever really does for them. It’s quite a learning experience, watching people for the two minutes it might take to jot down something about them. And then I go and put them in situations together, sometimes in a composition a kid from a restaurant will stare at a man from the grocery store, and in all likelihood they will never meet, but they are now linked by my artwork. I like playing with stories and how we tell ourselves things about others and ourselves.

What creative projects are you currently working on?

My fellow artist, Chrisel van der Merwe, and I have just opened a show we curated at the Project Space, in Victoria Yards, called Artybollocks! We were both interested in curatorship and started our own little collaboration called Bland and Boring. This is our first real show. Artybollocks! is a show about the online artist statement generator http://www.artybollocks.com. We asked 27 artists to create work based on a randomly generated artist statement, and this show is a culmination of that. It’s been very eye opening to hear about the artists’ experiences during the  show (we both also made a work). The show runs until 15 May.

Other than that, I have a few group shows coming up and am working on a new body of work which is quite a challenge for me. I’m very excited about where it’s going, but I don’t really know how to talk about it yet.
Group shows coming up: Bag Factory Salon, Jan Celliers Fund Raiser, En-Trance at Ellis House with the Dead Bunny Society. I’m possibly working on a duo show with Olivia Botha soon, which will incorporate a theatrical aspect written by Lara Lourens.

What do you feel the next step should be for the contemporary art industry in South Africa?

South Africa is so vibrant, there is so much excitement going on. I think one of our biggest issues is aligning buyers’ views with our own contemporary vision. At the end of the day, most buyers want something they can live with in their home, preferably on the wall. It limits the lengths that artists can make a lot, especially young artists. I think a lot of people find themselves bowing to the pressures of making something sellable just to survive, which is fine, but limits our goals. There isn’t enough investment for us to grow in that sense yet. I don’t have enough experience on how to change that, though. (I think it often comes down to education and brewing a love for art in all citizens). I’d also love to see Joburg (or South Africa) getting a biennale again. The southern hemisphere is starting to make its name in a contemporary way, so much is happening all over Africa. It’s a great time to be from Africa!
Personally I’m also very invested in other emerging artists, specially female artists. I think women in Africa are playing a big role in shaping the vision of African art.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?

Be yourself, don’t make the art you think people want you to make. There is only one you, so make whatever your soul inspires you to make – it’s much more important to be honest with yourself in that way. Eventually you’ll find a language you want to share with others. Also, I think putting yourself out there and taking chances is vital, don’t wait around for opportunity to come your way. Make opportunity happen for yourself and be professional.

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Follow Odette on:

Instagram – @ohdette

www.odettegraskie.com

Ofentse Seshabela reflects on the complex history of South Africa in his body of work.

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Ofentse Seshabela is a Visual Artist who aims to reflect on the complex history of South Africa and the world and how it is perceived in present day. His provocative imagery and clear political commentary is captivating and sought after in the contemporary art world. This creative on the move has exhibited in prominent galleries in Johannesburg and Cape Town, including the FNB Art Fair. Here’s more on his journey through the visual arts.

How do you define yourself as a Visual Artist and what inspired you to become one? 

I define myself as a visual artist that is constantly engaged with visual creativity. Whether it be myself drawing, painting, or frequently visiting the gallery or even browsing through an art magazine. I would say art informs a big chunk of my life. The process of creativity is constantly flowing in me and I try to consistently be in that state. I believe I’ve always been an artist, from a young age. I don’t think there was a particular transition that took place where I started considering myself as an “artist”, however, when my craft started getting better and better in high school, I guess that also inspired me to do more and continue honing in on my talents.

What makes your art unique? 

For one the primary medium that I use makes my art unique. I mainly use smoke in my drawings. I also do not like beating around the bush regarding my subject matter, so I depict images how I imagine them to be in my head. Most would say it’s quite literal but I believe in being straightforward about what I want to express.

What creative projects are you currently working on? 

I’m currently drawing and gathering content and research that would contribute into a bigger body of work which will form part of my solo show sometime this year, if not early next year. I have also enrolled at University of Johannesburg to finish off my art qualification of which I had taken a break from in 2018.

What do you think the next step should be for the South African visual art industry? 

I feel like the visual arts is currently privatized in SA. I would like to see the industry more accessible to people who are not informed about the industry. I have seen so much great raw talent outside of the industry but most do not know how to go about progressing their talents to build themselves a sustainable livelihood from it. It would be really great to reach out to communities that cannot  access the art world. I would also love to see us working on the development of visual artists from foundation phase. I think it is important to inform and educate young kids of the fundamentals of visual art, and how it can really be taken as a career. In essence, I would like art to be taken seriously from a very young age. Government and corporate entities should engage and fund the industry more to see that artists grow and are able to compete on the global market.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them? 

I would say the same thing I’ve heard from people that inspire me in my journey, believe in yourself, keep striving for more and always fight to evolve and grow yourself creatively and mentally. Failure and fear do not exist, it is just an opportunity to try again and do better.

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Follow Ofentse Seshabela on

Instagram: Ofentse_lord

Facebook: Ofentse Seshabela Art

 

Thokozile Gumede making anew of what is known with thought provoking contemporary art.

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Making anew from what is already known through thought provoking visual art is 22 year old emerging artist Thokozile Gumede from Port Elizabeth.

She takes inspiration from everyday people and situations to create her jarring contemporary art. This creative on the move shares her formative journey through the visual art world.

How do you define yourself as a visual artist and what inspired you to become one?

I define myself as someone who appreciates the mundane. Inspiration can come from anything and everything and that is the base of the work that I create. As a child, pre-primary and the foundation phase of school is centred around drawing and colouring, I loved drawing and seeing what I could make with what I have. I don’t want to say that I’ve been an artist forever. I just deeply enjoy art and creation. It’s in everything that we see and use, it has been a passion that is difficult to ignore or let go of for me.

What makes your art unique?

Good question. What sets me apart, or any artist apart, is that my experiences are unique to myself and allow me to create from what I’ve been through. Besides that, I see it as a thing of my art being unusual and letting people see what I see, creating images from things that the audience might have never thought would go together.

What creative projects are you currently working on?

I can’t let on too much about the collaborative works that I’m currently working on but I do have some exciting things to share in the future. In terms of personal projects, I’m working on a short series that I plan to release this year. Again, I don’t to say too much so I’d highly advise people follow me to see what I do.

What do you feel the next step should be for the contemporary art industry in South Africa?

There’s so much in our country and so much that is unseen. I think that the industry should give rise to the unknown and make more space for those working on the ground. This is a personal wish, but I would love to see what creatives could do outside the expectations of our creativity. What I mean by this is that I would like to see outside of the violent narrative. Yes, those stories are necessary and important but there is so much more to the South African experience than that.

What would you say to upcoming visual artists to inspire them?

Keep going. It’s advice that I struggle with myself but its best to keep doing what you do. Whether that means finding your style, your audience or even yourself – just keep going.

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Follow Thokozile Gumede on:

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Instagram: thoko.art & thokogumede
Twitter: @thokogum

Ts’episo Mahase on her nuanced filmmaking.

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Ts’episo Mahase (26) is a filmmaker who sees her creative vision as greatly helped and lead by God. She is an independant filmmaker whose visual storytelling is nothing short of perfection from frame to frame. We got to find out a little more about the contemporary filmmaker.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

What inspired me to become a filmmaker was a curiosity about how the process of filmmaking really is, the more I learnt about it the more interesting it became and I pursued it further.

What do you think makes your filmmaking and storytelling unique?

I don’t really think it is unique in anyway. There is such a huge realm of filmmaking that is unexplored by the masses and to think of my filmmaking as unique would be blind. It may be nuanced but I don’t think of it as unique. There’s always an element of posing questions and I guess making people feel like they are detectives trying to solve a puzzle.

What film projects are you currently working on?

I recently released a film called Roses For The Ocean which is a part of a bigger project called CLAIRVOYANCE: The End. We are shooting the rest of it and getting cracking with post production soon after so we can have it ready for the Johannesburg screening. The screening is free and is on the 14th of December and can book their tickets on Quicket

What do you feel the next step should be for your industry as a whole?

The next step should be making local films accessible for the masses and not just put this big emphasis on just showing them at festivals. I guess the biggest thing is who are they making films for, for other filmmakers, for film viewers or both? They need to make it accessible for all. It means nothing that you got selected to screen at TIFF but your audience does not even know where to watch your film when festival rounds are done.

What would you say to upcoming filmmakers in the industry to inspire them?

I would say learn as much as possible and open yourself up to different ideas. Don’t be a bully and work fairly with people in your team.

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Follow Ts’episo Mahase on:

Twitter: @mahase_ts

Instagram: tsepisomahase

Facebook: Ts’episo Mahase

Underestimate Me Not.

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I intimidate
I threaten and throw you off your tracks
Blindsided by ego and a lack of respect
You never thought I had it in me to retaliate.
How could it be?
In your validated bravado, accolades and strength
Bested by quick wit and a brazen smile
Intelligence and a soul too deep
Your shallow mind could never read
The intricacies and nuances of higher knowledge
Only elevated thinking could acknowledge
There is more to me than this
There is more to me than this frame you see.
This skin, this hair
These hands and this flair
Behind the beauty and smile
Is a mind worth more than your while
You hold me to a limited stature
Of basic looks and flattering conjecture
Choosing to focus merely on what is seen.
What you perceive, assume and fill in
And ignore all that maketh me
But I am made of more than looks and simple thoughts
My creativity ebbs and flows like rivers into waterfalls
Psyche made of convolutions and depressions.
Surface deep has never left much of an impression
Understanding of the world with skin its harshness couldn’t peel
A wild spirit, a mixture of fire and feels
Sensitivity to heal, hear me; I am a woman
Interwoven with longing, jubilance and spontaneity
Poetry by Tamara Lesabe
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“This is poem is based on a woman in the creative industry, the assumptions that are placed on a woman by society, creatives and men. It is about being more than the physical and woman breaking barriers beyond their looks and what people have always expected to do. Doing away with the limitations put on woman because they do not believe that woman are capable of doing a “mans job”. Its also about exposing the beauty of the mind and creativity.” – Tamara Lesabe.
                                                                           Model: Palesa Williams.
Photographer: Ray Manzana.

Ray Manzana, Beyond Visual Hype.

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Ray Manzana is a photographer and filmmaker who describes his work as being beyond the visual hype, storytelling is at the core of his creative expression. His portfolio boasts amazing photographic work with numerous artists including Frank Casino, Chiano Sky and Reason to name a few. Here’s a little bit on his journey as a creative.

“My environment inspires me, I feed off the energy, people, textures, taste. I like to use all my senses to draw inspiration from my surroundings and create a theme that indulges all the senses.

I try to capture the good and bad of life. I contrast a lot through my photography, for instance I could have a beautiful model captured in a somewhat toxic uninhabitable environment, that speaks to the realities that occur in life. My photography is centered around the ying-yang of life.

I’m not working on a particular big project at the moment, I’m working on various tv projects freelancing but in terms of my own creative projects I’m looking forward to creating a short film.

The next step for the creative industry is for creatives and artists to own their platforms and attain more resources. People need to pay creatives more as well, it can be really hard to survive as a creative off of your craft alone.

I’d encourge upcoming artist to remember that there is no right way or formula to creating art, stick to what feels most genuine to you.” – Ray Manzana

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Follow Ray on:

Twitter: @raymnzn
Instagram: ray_mnzn

Watch Video -> Ray Manzana, Beyond Visual Hype.