How did your love for art begin?
From a young age, I remember myself always drawing on the ground in my home’s yard, and making molds of clay cows, but my love for art grew further in grade 6 because of my English teacher who realised that as a rural student we needed visual art to understand the language better.
When did you realise art was a career for you?
After my Matric year. I came to Johannesburg to pursue my dream of being a pilot but I also brought most of my art works with me that I did when I was younger. I believe my mom realised that I was an artist before I did because she kept most of my work safe in her bedroom. I visited Artist Proof Studio, and submitted my childhood drawing portfolio and luckily I was accepted to study printmaking for a three-year scholarship that was the beginning of my art career.
What inspired your latest exhibition?
Currently, I’m at Rhodes University for my art residency. My recent work at the RAW Spot Gallery is my exhibition titled: “Their Humble Abode” inspired by the story of an African child’s migration to a different part of the world for better education. The significance of this is to remind us that we are not the first ones to look for the promised land, and to face obstacles on our journey.
Which artists inspire you?
Kay Hassan and David Koloane. Kay Hassan is a mentor and a father figure to me. I also get inspired by artists from my generation who keep working hard such as Lehlogonolo Mashaba, my dear friends Blessing Ngobeni, Molefe Thwala, and Thabo Motseki.
What are the highlights of your career as an artist?
My solo exhibition a few years ago in Krakow, Poland. All my solo exhibitions locally also brought joy to my heart. My new recent relationship with the Melrose Gallery, as well as my collaboration with the Manchester University on a book called Displacement: Global conversations on Refuge, which we launched a few months ago.
When do you feel the most creative?
In the morning hours around 3am. That’s when most of my images come to me. I allow myself to follow my heart and my spirit. To be an artist doesn’t mean that you have to draw every day, but our personal and social life also plays a huge role in our creativity.
What’s the state of art in South Africa?
It’s difficult at the moment because of the pandemic to talk about the state of art in South Africa, but I am aware that artists are doing their best to spread hope and to help heal their nation by producing art that will be a reminder that we lived in this challenging era. I feel like those who are in power in the art landscape need to open the landscape even more. Established artists need to understand our responsibility as well our inner voices and be the light.
What advice can you give to young people wanting to carve out a career in the world of art?
I would love to say that the art world is such a beautiful place with lots of freedom and possibilities to become whoever you want to be, but it’s a tough business too. You need to be dedicated and focused as well as stay humble and remain true to yourself.
What’s next for you?
I’m be having my solo exhibition in Makana, Grahamstown at Rhodes University on the 28th May 2021 in Raw Spot Gallery and my following show will be in Melrose Gallery in Johannesburg. The date will be announced soon.
Follow Senzo on Instagram at @studio.shabangu