Artists show off their creative talents in shared exhibition

The four emerging artists whose work was exhibited at the AVA Gallery as part of Rituals. From left are Ludumo Maqabuka, Christo Basson, Nkoali Nawa and Nkosinati Quwe.

Four emerging artists are showing off their work at the AVA Gallery, in a shared exhibition called Rituals.

The exhibition is the culmination of the Nando’s Creative Exchange programme, administered by Spier Arts Trust.

The Nando’s Creative Exchange is an artist career development programme.

Along with the Spier Arts Trust, emerging artists are mentored by professional artists, hand in a body of work to curators at the end of every month, and receive critique.

The four artists were chosen out of hundreds in the programme, and the exhibition acted as a graduation.

The artists can stay in the programme after the exhibition, but are encouraged to find a market outside it.

Mirna Wessels, the CEO of the Spier Arts Trust, said the programme was crucial as they were building a collection of contemporary art for the community. She said it is difficult to find unique artist expression and to sell art.

“The Creative Exchange aims to build up artists and equip them with the tools they need to market and present their work. With the programme, artists are afforded spaces like the AVA Gallery to be exposed to the industry.

“We want the artists to get a market outside of the programme and become self-sustainable. Our hope is that this exhibition is the start of the artists working towards their own exhibitions. We push them to do their best work and we are quite happy with the outcome.

“It’s a process – these exhibitions don’t change artist’s lives in a day, but it does give them the tools they need for the industry, otherwise we just let them be.”

Nando’s art and communications manager, Kirsten Niehaus, said the programme supports more than 300 artists and Nando’s also buys some of the art to display in their restaurants countrywide.

Tamlin Blake, curator of the project, said: “This year’s Creative Exchange exhibition shows the work of four emerging southern African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability.

“While the various works exhibited show diversity in medium, technique and subject matter, the underlying thread of ritual ties the works together.

“Each artist in their own way examines daily routines.”

Artist Nkosinati Quwe joined the programme back in 2016. “I met someone from the programme, sent in my portfolio, now I have a show.”

He said his art is based on life experiences and transformation in everyday life – because that’s what people strive for.

“I take images that I see every day and although they seem mundane, I turn it into something meaningful.

“For my ritual, I chose baptism as a means of personal and spiritual transformation.”

While Mr Quwe has had exhibitions in the past, he said this is the biggest yet.

“It’s a validation of what I’m doing, and it tells me to keep going, that I’m on the right track.”

Christo Basson, a fine artist and illustrator from Bellville, joined the programme four years ago when the curatorial team invited him to take part.

“We learnt how to work on bigger canvasses and how to present our work.”

He said while some of the artists have a traditional or religious approach, he incorporated everyday processes as his rituals and used music as a core for his body of work.

“I am honoured to be chosen as part of the exhibition and I see this as a graduation. I see this as a launch of my gallery career as an artist.”

Nkoali Nawa, from Gugulethu, was doing his artist in residence programme at Greatmore Gallery when he joined the programme in 2004.

He focused his rituals on how people are running from their roots with regards to the way they dress.

“People don’t dress the way they should at rituals. For instance, women need to cover their shoulders and their heads sometimes. I’m also trying to highlight how people are reared in religion.”

As the only artist whose drawings were black and white, he said he expresses himself better this way. “Having my work here is a great opportunity. It’s difficult to have a show on your own so I count myself lucky – it shows me that I have potential.”

Ludumo Maqabuka’s work was based on everyday street life.

“I try to tell stories that make sense to people.

He said he started the programme in 2011, and being part of the exhibition made him feel like he has “paid his dues”.

“You get chosen by the amount of work you put in, and being part of this encourages me to work harder and to try to get my name out there as an artist and business person.” The exhibition will be up at the AVA Gallery in Church Street, Cape Town, until Wednesday September 26.