Our artist of the month of July, Sthenjwa Luthuli believes Africans should live their lives more spiritually-connected to ancestral ways. Here’s why we’re excited about him and his work
“My art tells stories using human figure silhouettes and motifs to create work that’s both beautiful and compelling, yet which also alludes to the complexities of the world, based on how I see it.
I also relook at our diverse ways of living in a contemporary society and critically analyse and evaluate these – comparing pre-modern and modern society. Nowadays we’re less spiritually connected than our ancestors were. – As I see it, we’re constantly challenged to adapt and survive; in a society that’s also constantly changing. This is influences each of us to transform. And it’s often a radical transformation, dominated by western ideologies, which have reinforced the idea that Africans need to overlook or divorce themselves, from their roots.
I employ time and repetitive mark making – through various use of mediums – to map out and trace this constant negotiation of space and place. “Rapture, reincarnation, alive, consciousness and unconsciousness” – these are words we hear and use in faith-based conversations. How many of these words have we been instructed and told to believe, without questioning…?”
Sthenjwa was born in Bothas Hill in 1991 and attended iThornwood Secondary School. In 2010 he joined the BAT Centre’s visual art classes and says that these familiarised him with the industry of art and encouraged him to further explore and to develop his creativity.
At school he was challenged by the education system which scared him. He found peace within art and discovered that his fear was brought about by the way his family and the people within his surroundings, grew up.
In 2011 he enrolled for the Velobala Saturday art classes hosted by the African Art Centre at the Durban University of Technology. And then selected to participate in the Valobala mentorship programme in 2012 where he was exposed to a more extensive programme of visual Art in a formal environment and mentored by Themba Shibase, (artist/ Fine Art lecturer in the Department of Fine Art.)
Sthenjwa’s inspired by a number of artists including: Wangechi Mutu; Owusu Ankomah and Yinka Shonibare. Since 2011, he’s participated in a number of group exhibitions in KwaZulu Natal and Johannesburg. In 2012 he showed work at in various exhibitions in Bremen, Germany and completed a mural project in the Concordia Tunnel. This is located alongside the local and international collection of the Leiterin der Stadtischen Galerie, in Bremen Germany.