WORDS Celeste Jacobs PHOTOS Michael Hall and Supplied
A return to an ancient sense of connectivity and present-day existential exploration is brought to life – CHANT is currently on show until 28 May 2021 in Cape Town. Here, the internationally acclaimed, Faith XLVII, shares insights on work, the depth of her process and more.
Tell us more about the repetition of symbolism in your exhibition and why that resonates with you?
I work with ongoing thematics that I explore over time. One being the archetypal figure of the horse, its relationship to man in terms of its subservience, loyalty and inherent power. Other imagery that threads through my work are flags, maps, currency, the female form, animals and the use of found objects.
Over time, the metaphors start to tell a story and the artworks start to communicate with each other. I am interested in this dialogue and how I can intuitively bring about conversations through a visual language that transcends a purely logical explanation but speak to our deeper innate ability to interpret symbols, signs, metaphors and parables.
Can you tell us about your creative process? We’re keen to know if it’s a form of meditation to you and how it helps you connect with your subconscious?
I made a decision years ago that my creative process needed to be closely linked to my own personal, spiritual, emotional and intellectual understanding of the world. So in my studio I do make use of ritual, ceremony research and contemplation. Creating art is a cathartic and deeply moving experience. My creative process is sacred. We project meaning onto objects like talismans, family photographs, charms, a gift from our grandmother. I want my works to be such. Embedded.
For artists who are still figuring it out or starting out – do you have any advice when it comes to finding their own style?
My work is diverse and I have allowed myself a lot of freedom in terms of medium and ’style’. Where some artists may stick to the safer formula of creating a definitive style and sticking to it for their entire career, it is my opinion that the ethos and feeling of the artist behind the work will show through on all the work you do because you inherently have a personality or identity that becomes imprinted onto the things that you make.
However, one does need to be thoughtful and intentional about the narrative and storyline of your career (which is essentially your life). So there is definitely instinctual production, but there is also well-considered planning in all of my work.
What do you hope people who experience CHANT will take from it?
The work for this show was intentionally made without thinking too much about how it would be received. As a public (street) artist, I often have to think about the viewer and the community around my works and how the work embeds into the area around it, but with this exhibition, I wanted to make work that was raw, that reflected the issues and situations that we are facing. That is brutal and honest and unapologetic. These artworks I needed to express.
What people will take from it? Hopefully contemplation on some of the topics.
Deeper shifting on considering our place in the world. Our connections to each other. I think the work also does reflect (some aspects of) the South African experience, and I believe that experience has a lot to contribute to the world at large.
Looking for more? Read about Faith XLVII’s special collab with Hennessy.