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Seven young SA artists garnering acclaim on the global stage

These talented individuals are being lauded locally and abroad for reimagining the creative expression of our restless nation

12 September 2021 - 00:01 By Declan Gibbon
A piece by Giggs Kgole.
A piece by Giggs Kgole.
Image: Supplied


Mixed media

Kgole uses his art to expose the interplay between rural and urban environments through a cunning use of mixed media.

He empathises with the inhabitants of both these living environments by using anaglyphs, the overlaying of composite images onto a canvas to increase the immersive experience of the audience.

He's currently on a full presidential scholarship in Italy, following his acceptance of multiple awards, residencies and his inclusion in the Mail & Guardian's 2019 list of the Top 200 Young South Africans.

A piece by Lwando Dlamini.
A piece by Lwando Dlamini.
Image: Supplied



Dlamini's art deals with physiological and psychological trauma in the period of a global reckoning with police aggression and gender-based violence.

Using the disambiguation of bodies he applies paint to his canvases in an impasto style which is contradicted by a seemingly joyful mood. Rather than being blasé or denying their trauma, the figures are reconciling and gaining strength.

"My colours are getting brighter," Dlamini says of his recent works. "I'm out of that dark period in my head."


A piece by Lunga Ntila.
A piece by Lunga Ntila.
Image: Supplied



Ntila is a photographer and collagist. She has a signature deconstruction style of creating her art work that's admired by many in the art world and has led to a collaboration with the Cape Town-based clothing label Artclub and Friends, an independent brand that's created by artists, for artists, and also the opportunity to create content for British designer and celebrity Victoria Beckham.

Ntila uses a style of deconstruction to address pertinent themes of identity, bias and societal narratives. She expresses her original, experimental perspective by creating a delicate, distorted representation of her subjects, attempting to both frame and understand the ideologies that govern society and the identity of the people who make up communities.

"I'm attracted to the skeleton of identity, awareness, perspective and framing as a way of understanding the ideologies that govern the different facets that exist around us and within us," she says.

"I like the aspect of being able to create multiple worlds at once, I am able to piece pieces that represent the past, present and the future all in one."

A piece by Sthenjwa Luthuli.
A piece by Sthenjwa Luthuli.
Image: Supplied


Wooden reliefs and woodcut prints

Intricate and fluid patterns on woodblocks is what defines the work of Luthuli.

These patterns allow the final printed art work to be a meditative reflection on the "unknown space". The shape of the circle is emphasised, in contrast with the square, and promotes boundless and gentle movement.

Often Luthuli's works evoke his Zulu identity, tying his figures, often headless, to rituals and culture.

A street mural by Karabo Poppy.
A street mural by Karabo Poppy.
Image: Supplied


Illustrator, graphic designer, and street artist

Poppy has become a household name with the fashion-conscious youth of SA.

Her name is also familiar in the locker rooms of the National Basketball Association in the US because of her collaboration with Nike to design a version of their Air Force 1 sneakers, which sold out.

Her graphic designs and the bold lines of her murals as well as her use of striking colours echo the style of Afrofuturism with its African aesthetics and iconography.

Poppy was listed on the Forbes "30 under 30" list in 2019 and was named creative of the year by the popular South African design website Between 10and5 last year.

A piece by Kyu Sang.
A piece by Kyu Sang.
Image: Supplied


Structured surrealism

Working predominantly in black and white, Sang Lee draws on his diverse experiences of the world.

He reflects on traditional notions of religion and belief systems yet juxtaposes these with the transitional space of identity, architecture, and environment. Dogma is spurned yet its iconography and influence are celebrated.

Realms of the surreal and metaphysical are constructed by his use of installation and film within photography.

His work is meditative and complex.

Lulama Wolf Mlambo's art work.
Lulama Wolf Mlambo's art work.
Image: Supplied


Mixed-media collage

Mlambo's art works exist in the intersection of neo-expressionism and African art. Her style is mixed-media collage.

She focuses on the way that the contemporary mind is used as a tool to dissect the pre-colonial and post-independent African experience via methods lifted from traditional art and vernacular architecture.

She prides herself on translating her experience through time and space to the disciplines of science and technique, discovering the world's contradictions in the process.

Her work is a complex exploration of different realities, perspectives and biases.


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