WORDS Sarah Buitendach
A new guard of South African abstract artists has us captivated. From this impressive pack, we selected four standout creatives whose dynamic and thoughtful work will, no doubt, excite you too.
This talented printmaker’s graphic works are a celebration of both her cultural background and her craft.
Why abstract art?
While I was a student at Artist Proof Studio, most students and graduates did realistic artworks. When I got to third year, I told myself that I wanted to move away from the traditional way of printmaking, which led me to explore and combine different techniques and elements when printing, resulting in abstract works.
Having my artworks commissioned for various projects, most notably the recently completed Leonardo building in Sandton, and exhibiting at art fairs while I was still a student.
Creative people who inspire you?
Designer Laduma Ngxokolo and artist Esther Mahlangu. Although each focuses on his or her own tribe, I love the aesthetics found in their creations, how they tell their stories, and their way of showcasing what South Africa and Africa have to offer to the world through art.
Follow lubisithuli on Instagram.
This Joburger is a graffiti and traditional artist whose paintings and sculptures are a bold exploration of culture, and the way our world is signified through symbols, rituals and other practices.
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. My involvement in art became more serious when, one day, as I was doodling in a linguistics lecture, a friend said they would love my sketches at art school. I didn’t believe her. We took a bet. I applied and got accepted. Lost the bet! The rest is history.
Is Zulu culture an influence on your work?
Yes. It’s a slight shift from urban culture to urbanised Zulu culture. It was a natural progression in exploring elements that constitute my identity. I translate Zulu iconography onto maquettes for public sculpture, drawing from amabheqe, izinkamba and neziqhaza, and expanding the purpose of the beadwork, beer vessels and earplugs to reframe them as art. Through this process, I draw attention to different knowledge systems and their relevance.
Graffiti is one of the lenses I use to read the world. It definitely influences my choice of spray paint as a medium, and preference for working in public spaces and collaborating with others.
Follow sandile_radebe_art on Instagram.
This Durban artist’s work is diverse and nuanced – but all made of paper. Her abstract Colour Feels works are especially mesmerising.
It has been a long and sometimes arduous love affair, but one I can’t shake. Paper is common, unpretentious and banal as an object. It’s like no other material; it can be both 3D and 2D. It can be manipulated, folded, creased, torn, cut, painted on. It’s both fragile and robust. Its ability to transform is magical and whimsical, and surprises me every day.
And abstract art?
In my mind, my work walks this fine line of abstraction and figuration. It sometimes makes reference to textiles and carpets in concept, so its form is important – but beyond that, the textures and colours are often abstract in nature. I like how abstract art requires an unadulterated emotive response by capturing the essence of “things” that figuration can often distract from or miss.
Artists who inspire you?
At the moment, El Anatsui, Yayoi Kusama and Trish Andersen are firm favourites.
This Cape Town poet and artist creates work and meaning across many mediums. He’s particularly known for his abstract “photographic light paintings”, which are made entirely in the dark.
Why abstract art?
It allows for the expression of both inner and outer realities in subtle and profound ways. Abstraction allows me to draw connections with the familiar, like nature, and then invite to a reality that transcends the material.
How do your worlds of poetry and art intersect?
For me, each work, each medium, every minuscule detail within an exhibition or body of work is as a line in a poem that is the central heart of a collection of works. No word out of place, no detail too small or too great. Much like poetry, my exhibitions begin with an empty gallery, a white canvas. I spend time in/with the space I am given, keeping in mind the poems and movements currently flowing in my life. Then, like the words of a poem being written, I see the space as though gradually all of the works have been made and everything has been placed.
What inspires you?
Everything, always. My motivation is to contribute to the beauty and peace of existence through art and poetry, and to invite to the highest values and forms of beauty in our world, both seen and unseen.
Cape Town’s THK gallery (thkgallery.com) is hosting an online exhibition of Abdus’s work, “Falls Of Abundance”, from 9 June, and another show, “Soft As Stone”, in January 2022. It will also exhibit his work at a number of international art fairs later this year.