Ukunanela KwamaDlozi - Echoes of Ancestors in the African Renaissance, Presented by Tsholofelo Bhungane Radebe
We refer to the spirit, voice and expression of our ancestors as an echo because we are reverberations of the voices before us. We echo through these hollow earthly bodies that can only be filled by following the spirit and painting on the walls of the cave that is our existence.
This African renaissance or spirituality is not a genre, it is an essential component of the human experience that has been suppressed. Our liberation is about the return of our unique contribution to existence. The African has existed for millions of years and their culture has answers to many a existential question such as the reason for being and a greater beyond, Oteng Keabetswe depicts this with a connection between humans and animals on the journey of life and death, focusing on the life force that ties us all together and exists beyond flesh.
Drawing the parallels between various cultures such as Shinto of Japan and Isintu of the Zulu, we illustrate the universal experience of spirit. Amy leigh Braaf’s work is an indicator of this universal language that we choose to tap into.
Our biology is also a form of archeology. From cave paintings to graffiti, the African has always archived their experience through creative expression found in following their internal voice. Khotso Motsoeneng is a favourite as he depicts the connection between consciousness and biogenetics, the existence of knowledge and information in our bodies on a microscopic level (known as epigenetics) is my own personal interpretation of some of his works.
In both African and Japanese animism, everything has a divinity of its own, so the elements also qualify as an ancestor. Amy leigh Braaf’s (HakoPike) work is an indicator of this universal language that we choose to tap into.
We are of the elements and we feed from them, therefore as we engage with nature we rejuvenate our souls, so when Ofentse connects with Charcoal and puts pressure on the canvas, she creates a commodity.
The connection found in the mediums and landscapes presented is in the connection towards the natural elements in one way or another, in order to tell the story of their connection to life force.
Mel Madiba does the same in her journey with fire through pyrography, passion is known to enliven and destroy but there are great truths expressed with each stroke of fire. Mark Modimolo explores nature as a part of the spirit through his depiction of flowers as a part of the subject.
Zana Masombuka draped in ingubo ye ngwe (Leopard print blanket), the significance of leopard's spots is that they represent the cosmos and royalty. In Kemetic and Nguni culture, the royals were led and governed by the cosmos as they are manifestations of God. The stars are also identified as an ancestor or a phase of existence in the spiritual path for the African. Representing divinity, the royal wears the leopard print as they acknowledge themselves as an ambassador of the divine, they experience nature as the mirror of a far more infinite world. Artists such as HakoPike affirm that this is not only an African spirituality but a universal experience of the spirit, in her journey of self discovery.
All of these symbols and totems assist us by giving us identity and in connecting to ourselves , each other and to our surroundings as bodies that were falsely reduced to pariah’s in their own land. It rebuilds a sense of community for us rooted in our truth and not only our survival. My relationship with each artist is sparked by the echo of my own ancestors, because we often dwell in institutions and corporate spaces that have no room for our truest self, art has been the platform for our soul to communicate itself to this realm. This is a moment of crescendo for my curatorial conversation that began with the Woke Arts conscious movement, thankful to Latitudes Online and the mentors for the framework of my life’s work.
Artwork above: Bontle Juku & Zana Masombuka, ZANA, 2022, 59.4 cm x 84.1 cm, Photography, Photographic print on fine art matte paper, R 30,000.00 ex. VAT
Khotso Motsoeneng, New Studio Energies , 2020-2021,151,5 x 108,5 cm, R 30,000.00 ex. VAT
Tsholofelo Bhungane Radebe is passionate about purpose and connecting with people. I've connected people to the spirit, connected brands and creative teams into a diverse network. I have experience in multiple fields such as Art, Design, Drama, Literature and Music. The Journey as a curator begins in 2015 at the spur of our conscious art movement titled "W.O.K.E Arts", (Acronym for We're Original Kreatif Enlightened) which was a framework the curator built in order to capture the authentic self of the African at large outside of neocolonial lenses and influences. This chapter with Latitudes.Online feels like moment of crescendo as the insights our travels have exposed to us can finally be projected as stories of the human spirit.
Oteng Keabetswe, Duality II, 2023, 84,1cm x 59,4 cm, charcoal on paper, R 8,500.00 ex. VAT
Bontle Juku & Zana Masombuka, ZANA, 2022, 59.4 cm x 84.1 cm, Photography, Photographic print on fine art matte paper, R 30,000.00 ex. VAT
Umseme Uyakhuluma, Umseme Uyakhuluma, Photography, A1, price on request
Further Reading In Articles
African Artist Directory