Umsizi noPende Shines a Light on South Africa's Soul

Umsizi noPende Shines a Light on South Africa's Soul

The Springs Art Gallery shone bright and luminous as the 3rd Annual Umsizi noPende Visual Arts Project Competition culminated in a prestigious award ceremony recently. Three phenomenal artists emerged victorious, their works capturing the very essence of South Africa's past, present, and future.

Hoek Swarathle's awe-inspiring multicolored silkscreen series struck gold, earning him the coveted R20,000 prize. Swarathle's work isn't just art; it's social commentary. Through his lens, we witness the fascinating transformation of Soweto's "matchbox houses," iconic structures that embody the township's evolving architectural landscape. Swarathle delves deeper, exploring how ownership of these spaces transforms with each generation.

"I am specifically focusing my visual research on the so-called 'match-box houses,' Swarathle declares.

“These architectural structures... are iconic functional homes for working-class Black communities in pre-apartheid South Africa. My work further investigates the changing architectural landscape of the township and the different kinds of ownership by newer and younger generations of inhabitants."

Hoek Swarathle

Kwandiwa Dlwati's evocative ink and acrylic paintings resonated with the judges, landing him the Bronze Prize of R8,000. Dlwati's art isn't afraid to confront harsh realities. His powerful works depict the chilling impact of "loadshedding" on South African communities, plunging viewers into the inky blackness of a township blackout. Dlwati's masterful use of light and shadow draws us in, forcing us to confront the challenges faced by these communities. Dlwati explains his artistic vision:

"I use different hues and contrast to lure the viewer in to walk the metaphorical dark streets embedded within my work. I reflect on the community's metamorphic qualities. This investigation through my artistic perspective enables one to gain a portal to the community, allowing viewers to locate themselves within the labyrinth while also getting lost in my experimentation."

Kwandiwa Dlwati

Falida Nkomo stole the show, taking home both the Silver Prize (R12,000) and the coveted Public Voters' Choice Prize (R10,000). Nkomo's artistry is undeniable. Her captivating printmaking technique utilizes layered monotypes and historical imagery, weaving a visual tapestry that explores themes of belonging and the struggles of navigating foreign borders. Nkomo's work compels us to question what it truly means to feel at home. Nkomo offers this insight into her creative process:

"My practice is focused on printmaking and how layering through monotypes becomes a language to express this idea of belonging in a place that seems foreign to the subjects used. The process evokes how one's concept of home is being menaced by foreignness and mass movement."

Falida Nkomo

This year's competition was fierce. Twenty shortlisted artists, culled from a staggering 250 applications, participated in workshops led by The Arts Company Soweto (TACS). Their works culminated in a powerful group exhibition titled "Qoqiqiniso: Archives of the Past, Present, and Future," currently on display at the Springs Art Gallery. Can't make it in person? Explore the online exhibition catalogue at isthuliarts.org.za and delve into the artistic tapestry that is South Africa.

"Qoqiqiniso" is open to the public until May 31, 2024. The Springs Art Gallery welcomes visitors Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4pm. Admission is free.

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