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Featured Artists

Sylvester Mqeku

Sylvester Mqeku is a pioneering ceramic artist and academic who hails from Mount Fletcher in the Eastern Cape. Sylvester is also an innovative educator with an interest in how the ceramic studio technique adapts to public creative practice. “My work embraces sand casting, a method of fabrication that is unconventional and rarely explored within ceramic art. As endless searches for possibilities and limitations, trial and error become valuable if further knowledge is to be acquired throughout this quest of making. I draw and imprint in damp sand, then I use clay in liquid form capture these imprints later creating solid positive formations.”

 

“Although the drawings and imprints are done instinctively, my experience within a museum of natural history, (palaeontology, archaeology and anthropology) has nourished a pre-occupation with the natural world. Museums can be like time capsules, housing past and present in the form of discoveries, reproductions and displays. The fabrication of my work adopts the character of discovery, transcending the complex problems of excavation, and the themes of mould making and replication, and ultimately the presentation and conservation of forms. My ideals are fluid in reference; the surfaces of my finished forms may imply both plant and animal fossils, shells, African symbolism, extra-terrestrial materials and found objects.”

 

Some of his numerous milestones are:

2023 Master’s in Design and Studio Art from the Central University of Technology (CUT)

2022 Africa’s first sand-cast ceramics exhibition was his series “The Birth of the Alter-Natural”

2021 StateoftheArt Gallery Award

2019 A.I.R. Vallarius residency in France

2018 Hosts the first ever public workshop on sand-cast ceramics at CUT

2018 Black Rock Senegal Artist residency in Dakar, Senegal

2018 Goethe-Institut Project Space (GPS) commission

2018 BTech in FineArt from the Tshwane University of Technology

2014 Docent at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum

2014 1st Prize Winner of Gallery on Leviseur’s "New Season a Ceramics Exhibition"

Mark L. Swart

Mark L. Swart is a seasoned, creative and motivated Artist & designer, creating and manufacturing unique and functional artworks. He has won numerous awards and commissions, and has over 30 years’ experience creating artwork and sculptures for private individuals, commercial and International businesses and properties.

 

In his own words, “Steel is often perceived as a hard, cold, strong and unyielding material and often, it evokes those emotions. I express other qualities of metal by stretching the physical plasticity of the material which enhances the image and conveys the Steel material and often, it evokes those emotions.”

 

Mark collaborated with Eduardo Villa for five years. His achievements include:

1987 – Awarded 1st place in SATSU National Inter – Technikon Art competition in Sculpture & painting .

1987 – Merit Award Sasol New Signatures.

1991 – Winner in various categories, including sculpture, at Kempton Park National Art Competition.

2000 – Awarded 2nd place in the Iscor National Awards for most innovative use of steel in Art & Architecture.

2007 – Awarded Regional best Sculpted house in steel by the Architectural board.

2008 – Commissioned By Arcelor Mittal Steel for new sculpture at their Vanderbijlpark plant.

2009 – Commissioned to do a Sculpture Estate containing works from Eduardo Villa, & Mickey Korzennik.

2011 – Opened Mark L Swart public sculpture garden at Broad Acres Lifestyle Centre.

2018 – Work acquired for the Norval Foundation Collection.

2019 – Group exhibition with William Kentridge, Marco Cianfanelli and Eduardo Villa of the last 21 years of important names at UJ University.

2020 – Working exclusively on 3 palaces in Dubai & Abu Dhabi on numerous designs and sculptures.

2022 – Opened a gallery in Dubai, UAE.

2023 – Working on a private commission for a Japanese Pagoda and Bridge.

The Inckubeko Yakwantu

The Inckubeko Yakwantu collective weaves together art, the preservation of culture, sustainable economic empowerment, and the revival of neglected spaces. Azola Krweqe, founder of Inckubeko Yakwantu, is an artist-curator based in Nkanga, Willowvale in the Eastern Cape, and Cape Town. She is driven by the construction of self-empowered aspiration for black people, particularly women. The project is conducted as a cooperative that incentivises the artistry of ukuhlola (beading).

 

Inckubeko Yakwantu facilitates the transfer of skills and the monetisation of art produced by manual and/or mechanised beading for the home and as attire. Azola’s methodology, which gave rise to Inckubeko Yakwantu in 2022, challenges traditional exhibitions and involves community engagement, experimentation and intuition. The latter means that the practice may be at times grounded and visceral, as it may be whimsical, light-hearted and frivolous on other occasions. The work is rooted in reframing the practice, presentation and perception of fine art by relating it to creativity that develops rural and remote societies, encourages intergenerational dialogue, affirms the breadth of lived-experience, and promotes compassionate self-actualization.

 

Krweqe examines colonial historical accounts, representation and indigenous knowledge systems. She is inspired by the need to preserve Xhosa cultural practices that grapple with extinction as a result of urbanisation. She felt the imperative upon returning to Nkanga after living in a major metropole during her tertiary studies.

 

Azola is an academic who previously served as the Secretary General of the SRC and the Chairperson of the UCT Humanities Students’ Council. Krweqe obtained an Honour’s in Curatorship and BA in Industrial Sociology and Social Development which codified her vested interest in social justice, and human expression and development. Azola participated in the 'Uncovering Hidden Narratives: Decolonizing Art and Amplifying Underrepresented Voices' panel by Culture Connects X Africa Day. She was delegated to the Visual Arts Biennals Connect — at the 59th Venice Biennale di Arte — by the British Council’s Sub-Saharan Arts Programme.

Marguerite Roux

Marguerite Roux,  born in 1991 in Beaufort West, lives and works in Cape Town. She grew up in Wellington in the Cape Winelands, where she matriculated from La Rochelle High School in Paarl. Marguerite practices intuitive weaving using both age-old as well as modern mechanical advances to manipulate different kinds of yarn.

 

She also liberates the work from the confines of the expectations and associations of weaving itself, frames, textures, colours schemes and patterns. Roux appreciates the time to herself that the making grants her as she creates art that is fully her own. She becomes engrossed in the process of weaving and the hours invested rather than a specific outcome of the rya knots at the back of the abstract, unravelled front.

 

Reflection is woven into the fabric of the unhurried, traditional manual work that imposes a physical requirement equaled by its demand for presence of mind and emotional involvement. Roux embraces the disjuctive and disruptive chaos of deconstruction juxtaposing the soft, calming feel of wool. The art is provocative in a way that belies the comforting material and mere pigmentation.

 

Roux was awarded a MA (Cum Laude) in 2018, obtained the Timo Smuts and Keith Dietrich academic merits awards for BA Visual Arts in 2014, received the Redelinghuys Trophy for most promising art student in 2008, and Golden Key Award for academic excellence in 2011 at Stellenbosch University.

 

Marguerite was a finalist of the Sasol New Signatures Award in 2017, 2015 and 2014. She has participated in more than fifty exhibitions internationally, notably ‘Also Known as Africa’ (AKAA) Art Fair in Paris in 2019, the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial as part of Emelie Röndahl’s project, ‘Google Weaving Stop-Time,’ in 2018, ‘Greatest Hits: The Domestic Oddyssey’ presented by the AVA Gallery in 2015, and ‘Hinterlands: The Keith Dietrich Award Exhibition’ at GUS in the same year.

Nonceba Thami Dwanya

Nonceba Thami Dwanya (b. 2000, Tshwane), is a consumate artist, and currently resident at The Bag Factory. Her paint, charcoal, and ink medium portraiture are emblazoned with her dynamism. She embodies a vast array of talents ranging from fashion to netball, and from entrepreneurship to fine art. She uses portraits to centre on the self, but is rooted in the understanding that “Motho ke motho ka batho” (I am because we are).

 

The topic of her work is self understanding. The Journal of Philosophy in 2011 quoted the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2010 definition, “Self: a person’s essential being which distinguishes the person from others, especially considered as the object of introspection or reflexive action.” Hence, understanding thereof follows as the awareness of and ability to elaborate/explain it.

 

However, Dwanya adds, “In simple terms, self doesn’t and can’t exist without others.” The individual’s personal experience is not singular, but shared and may potentially induce a resultant experience in the those witnessing the individual’s experience.

 

Nonceba’s expresses her reflection in others and others’ perspective of her through colour and texture in her practice. The frame extends beyond the face. The multifaceted nature of her complexity, excellence and the subjects portrayed are unpacked, layer by intricate layer of paint, ink, charcoal, collage, colour and texture which then make up a whole. The entirety is further complicated (or simplified) by negative spaces with silhouettes representing the amplification of others’ presence and/or absence in balance/co-existence which forms the basis for ones relationship with oneself, and in facilitating understanding oneself.

 

Nonceba Thami Dwanya obtained a BA in Fashion Media at STADIO, had a solo exhibition at Constitutional Hill entitled ‘Motlatsi’ — inspired by and dedicated to her mother — in 2024, and was housed at the the Selah Gallery in 2023.

Thabiso Dakamela

Born in 1994, to a Venda father and Ndebele mother, Thabiso Dakamela has practised art professionally in Johannesburg and abroad for nearly a decade. Inspired by day to day events and memories of people, Thabiso works in varied disciplines.

His recent work reconciles different aspects, components, and features of the self. From the personality projected to the outside world, to the segments known only to ourselves, his works tend to illustrate and represent different parts of our nature, our character, our ego, and our temperament.

Mimicking the unprecedented rhythm of the sea, Thabiso Dakamela takes us through different factions of his own personality traits through the depiction of various personas that can be found in a specific locale. He creates expressive reflections of the vibrations and energies he encounters, and notes the inextricable interconnectedness of all living beings.

Dakamela further notes the duality of life as he puts into perspective and contrasts light reflected in emotions such as joy, bliss, freedom, and contentment with the darker aspects of life such as guilt, pain, insecurities, and fear. Dakamela advocates for the acknowledgment and balance of the two polarities of light and dark in attempts to centralize and ground oneself despite the ebb and flow of life.

Evocative of the eternal nature of the ocean, Dakamela predominantly uses shades of blue to explore notions of self- awareness, learning, spirituality, strength, and vulnerability and to express further the importance of introspective solitude balanced out with the amiable effect of companionship.

His work is integral to prized collections in South Africa and the world. He was featured in The Art Times Magazine and on SABC’s Mzansi Insider.

Thokozani Arthur Dlamini

Thokozani Arthur Dlamini hails from Benoni, Ekurhuleni. Through the camera and with paint on canvas, he details the sacred journey of human experience. His process, self-discovery through love, is the heartbeat of Arthur Dlamini’s work as a visual artist. His inspiration comes from his soul, the conversations he shares with everyday people, and his connection to music.

 

Armed with curiosity and a unique perspective of the Divine, he navigates the domains of creating memory by exposing the authenticity of emotion. Each piece of art brings with it a reverence for compassion, vulnerability and honouring one's divinity. Dlamini has managed to rely on the complexities of human emotion as his creative compass.

 

One cannot separate the cry for collective liberation and personal freedom from an Arthur Dlamini original. His life, as a South African in front of the lens in fashion, may have contributed to his palpable regard for the dignity of the humans he photographs. An artist’s artist, Dlamini also merrily yet respectfully assumes the mantle of jazz archivist. Dlamini proves that high-definition realism and ethereal beauty are not mutually exclusive.

 

The magic of how Dlamini captures a moment comes from his appreciation of the present. He views being present as releasing the limitations of the past and the future, and fully surrendering to each moment as though it is the only truth to ever exist. This is the threshold to the transcendental work of Arthur Dlamini, defying restrictive intellect and indulging in the expansive operation of feeling.

 

Dlamini uses his practice as medicine for the social and spiritual ills faced by those confronting intergenerational trauma layered with adversity. By experiencing the photographs and paintings of Arthur Dlamini, we are reminded of the wonders that emerge when art-making is used as a portal to meditation, and creativity as a prayer.

 

Skill, honed over decades, allows him to focus on the message over gimmickry. Iconic performance artists, cultural institutions and creatives broadly have honoured his passion by commissioning the outpouring of his love through the lens.

One of the key components of his artistic journey is his reflection on his heritage, full of speculation and uncertainty. The evolved narratives he creates are also inspired by his history and memory. His research centred around how our thoughts about behaviour and ethnography influence action, and in turn, how actions can shape thoughts. He reflects on the beauty, nostalgia and melancholy evoked by memories and experiences, that may overlap, or be blurred, forgotten or lost over time.

The loss of the original context makes (a fascinating) space for self-exploration, causing the narratives to change and be adjusted to suit the way he chooses to preserve each memory. Trapani’s artistic marathon has revealed the cyclical nature of how these reflections — which can become vague, occasionally ludicrous, and even obsessive — evolve into a fundamental experience that artistry conveys.

His portraits encapsulate a sense of melancholia or tragedy represented by elements, such as ancient architecture, eroding wood, or the fractured and “dissolving” surfaces. They highlight the fading legitimacy of the past and bring a sense of longing, which feeds the imagination. He hopes to capture and preserve the beauty found in memories and experiences, both preserved and forgotten.

Trapani completed his Master’s in Visual Arts (with Distinction) at UNISA in 2017. He attended the National School of the Arts and the University of Johannesburg, where he received the Medal of Outstanding Academic Achievement. He was awarded the Ampersad Foundation Fellowship. He taught at the University of Pretoria, Vega, LISOF and what is now the University of Johannesburg. He has participated well over 25 solo and group exhibitions.

Mthuthuzeli “Sthu” Manaka

Mthuthuzeli “Sthu” Manaka is a contemporary abstract portrait painter who was born and raised in Soweto, and has exhibited internationally. The son of a world-renowned artist, Sthu forged his own bold identity.

 

He says, “My work is about my personal obsession with the spirit realm, how the spirit moves, redefining masculinity, how to love without colour nor gender. How the spirit is honest, raw and faceless in its movement.”

 

Katlego Love Sithole

Katlego Love Sithole, residing in Maboneng and born in Limpopo, embraced visual art as a self-taught discipline. Love left an administrative accountancy job behind him due to an urgency to pursue his passion for art which has “a responsibility to the people.” His personal and artistic odyssey is one of self-mastery and inspired reinvention.

 

His process is akin to that of an architect constructing a layered visual language. It breaks conventional barriers, faces overlooked issues and breaches the traditional confines of abstraction, analytical cubism, and surrealism. He uses the medium of ink/paint on paper and effortlessly deploys digital graphic design towards overcoming representational systems that hinder progress.

 

His art primarily focuses “on the intricate layers of the black body and its perception of self, entangled within the cacophony of a manufactured world. Advertising, reality shows, and clickbait internet act as conduits of manipulation, diverting attention from the crucial care and preservation of the ancestral lands from which the black body emerged.”

 

Sithole strives to unravel the complexity of our interwoven society and the subtle ties that bind us. He invites viewers to join him in deciphering the unseen forces shaping our lives. He deliberates on the dynamics, narratives and power structures that govern our existence.

 

Katlego’s series investigate multiple themes. Prevalent motifs include the striped shirt (the illusion of freedom — in the form of political independence and ‘civil liberties’ — disguising persistent entrapment in systems, serving the interests of a privileged few, by design), red pants (homage to individuals who sacrificed their lives or contributed to the struggle for black liberation), and skulls/skeletons (spiritual and mental emptiness, and a biblical reference to the ‘Valley of Dry Bones,’ Ezekiel’s prophetic vision of bones being revived by the breath of God).

 

The striped shirt had an additional dimension: it is linked to Picasso, “an artist whose work was heavily influenced by African art.” Katlego’s pieces not only interrogate externalities, but are also an introspective reflection and critique. He credits the impact of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Sithole was a Finalist of the 2023 Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize.

Larissa Mwanyama

Larissa Mwanyama — a “poetically complex” intersectional artist — is  a digital artist with an upbringing steeped in traditional storytelling; an African and Futurist. She forms part of the 2023 Cohort of the V&A Waterfront Artist Alliance. Her “Nuanced” reached the Top Ten of the ResiliArt Contest by UNESCO X Blazer Magazine. She was a finalist of the 2019 StateoftheART Gallery Award. Mwanyama has a Bachelor’s in Fine and Studio Art, and Honours in Curatorship from UCT.

 

She says of her pieces, “The use of character and narrative building is an important process in my work; this is the time to play with memory and the perception I have of my womanhood in relation to others. My work might seem to portray my perception of the 'Strong and Powerful Black Woman', which is not negated, however I want the viewer to experience each character in isolation; an isolation from societal expectation.

Mwanyama is particularly interested in how knowledge is produced and carried down, and how it then manifests and is perceived. “I feel that while my work is personal and intimate, I hope to extend the invitation of re-imagining one's memory and perception of themselves, especially in a world where most of us aren't given the space to exist the way we would like to.”

 

Madikotsi ‘Mummy’ Khumalo

Madikotsi ‘Mummy’ Khumalo was born in Sebokeng in 1988, and raised by her mother. Khumalo, who employs vividly coloured acrylic paint and collage on canvas, practices “art for love” and “with her soul.” Interested in how the mind, body and what lies beyond exist together in the world, Mummy Khumalo examines the dual reality of our spiritual awareness and our physical actuality.

 

The influence of feminine strength invokes the depiction a mother of all existence. She adds, “I use the female figure as the subject of my work, to explore questions of social issues connected to gender, culture, tradition, religion, and equality, which are all influenced by the cycle of life both in the physical and spiritual world.”

 

Khumalo asks if technology and capitalisms impose a war for the control of the human soul and predominance of individualism that are at odds with ubuntu, creating a vacuum with social implications. The narratives are affected by historical and current political discourse.

 

Post-matric and private classes (whilst at Vaal University of Technology for entrepreneurship studies) to hone her artic talent, she enrolled at Artist Proof Studios to further her professional printmaking skill for three years. She worked in animation at the Tshimologong Precinct and a as part-time art docent at Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein.

 

‘Learning About Ourselves - Back To Water’ was her 2023 solo exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery. Mummy had her work featured in group exhibitions including ‘A Cloud’ at Studio Nxumalo and Gallery 2 in 2021, ‘The Problem with African Contemporary Art Is…?’ in Johannesburg and ‘In Conversation’ at Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, in the same year, and a 2019 Strauss & Co collaboration with Artist Proof Studios entitled ‘Resist’.

Mncedisi Mkhize

Mncedisi Mkhize was born in 1996 in Pietermaritzburg and matriculated in 2014. His vibrant oil paint and fabric on canvas medium boldly extols a visual story in portraiture. Now Mncedisi is expressing the silent inner turmoil of his childhood where his mind had to invert the quietness into a refuge.

 

His art pieces are foil to a culture that maintained silence as tacit agreement disregarding the manipulation of the voiceless. The smothering birthed consequences. Today Mkhize calls on viewers to deal with the hushed truths, struggles hitherto undeclared, suppressed memories and new-found, heady boundlessness.

 

The power of the self-driven narrative also carries with it the vulnerability of exposure, just as progress evokes nostalgia. This is starkly depicted in the pink versus blue meticulously selected by Mncedisi. Fabrics turn the painted figures into textured, clad, realised entities partaking in experiences that are woven into his remembrance, growth and artistry. The art should not just be seen, but felt and ‘heard’.

 

After matric, Mkhize took art classes at Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg where he was mentored by luminaries of the art scene in 2016 and 2017. Thereafter, he moved to Durban to deepen his understanding of art and design at the Thekwini College, Centec Campus, then to Johannesburg for printmaking tutelage at the Artist Proof Studio.

 

Mkhize was part of group exhibitions at KZNSA Gallery’s ‘Buzzart’ in 2023, Skokvel Art Gallery in 2022, uShaka Marine’s Pop-up Exhibition in 2022, Open Studio’s Isizotha Art and Design Exhibition in 2020, Azania Theatre Show in 2021 and ‘Sibhong’ emswaneni’ in 2020.

Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Peter

Nompumelelo (Mpumi) Peter was born and raised in Springs, Ekurhuleni. Driven by a genuine love for art, Mpumi made the move to the creative space from finance. Although her preferred medium is oil painting, specialising in portraiture, the spectrum of her artistic expression even covers both 2D as well as 3D digital creations.

 

Her proclivity for oil painting stems from her appreciation of its versatility, allowing her to work with both delicate, thin layers and bold, textured impasto strokes. Peter’s creative pursuits embrace a variety styles and concepts including, adapting to the fluid nature of inspiration.

 

Mpumi’s artistic creations draw inspiration from the rich tapestry of life, navigating the pursuit of contentment in an era fraught with discontent. Each piece serves as a compelling reminder that (despite life’s challenges and the inevitability of change, daily mental renewal) fostering gratitude for our present state and cultivating patience for the promise of the future is impertaive.

 

Mpumi’s aspires to encourage appreciation for the self, our current circumstances, and the anticipation of what lies ahead. By seizing the essence of each day, she aims to elicit emotions of happiness, tranquillity, and joy through her work, offering a sanctuary amid the tumult we encounter.

 

Peter graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. She also has a Professional Diploma in Graphic Design and Digital Marketing and IT Software Development. She was a Sasol New Signature Art Competition 2021 Finalist which meant that her piece, ‘Shade of Beauty,’ was exhibited at the Pretoria Art Museum. Mpumi took part in group Exhibitions at Thomarts Gallery (The Marc) in 2019 and in 2020.

Sandro Trapani

Born in 1972, Trapani has been on the Sisyphean quest for an elusive truth for 25 years (and counting) as an artist, curator and academic. He was raised in Hoedspruit, where his mother’s pottery studio was his playground. Sandro lives and works in Potchefstroom by way of Johannesburg. The evolved narratives he creates in his mixed media sculpture, paintings and photographs are inspired by his memory, history and heritage.

 

One of the key components of his artistic journey is his reflection on his heritage, full of speculation and uncertainty. The evolved narratives he creates are also inspired by his history and memory. His research centred around how our thoughts about behaviour and ethnography influence action, and in turn, how actions can shape thoughts. He reflects on the beauty, nostalgia and melancholy evoked by memories and experiences, that may overlap, or be blurred, forgotten or lost over time.

 

The loss of the original context makes (a fascinating) space for self-exploration, causing the narratives to change and be adjusted to suit the way he chooses to preserve each memory. Trapani’s artistic marathon has revealed the cyclical nature of how these reflections — which can become vague, occasionally ludicrous, and even obsessive — evolve into a fundamental experience that artistry conveys.

 

His portraits encapsulate a sense of melancholia or tragedy represented by elements, such as ancient architecture, eroding wood, or the fractured and “dissolving” surfaces. They highlight the fading legitimacy of the past and bring a sense of longing, which feeds the imagination. He hopes to capture and preserve the beauty found in memories and experiences, both preserved and forgotten.

 

Trapani completed his Master’s in Visual Arts (with Distinction) at UNISA in 2017. He attended the National School of the Arts and the University of Johannesburg, where he received the Medal of Outstanding Academic Achievement. He was awarded the Ampersad Foundation Fellowship. He taught at the University of Pretoria, Vega, LISOF and what is now the University of Johannesburg. He has participated well over 25 solo and group exhibitions.