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‘I Surrender to Creation’ celebrates the intimate creative process of artists

Vanessa Tembane,'s Espelho (Mirror),Digital Print on ilford paper. Picture: Supplied

Vanessa Tembane,'s Espelho (Mirror),Digital Print on ilford paper. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 5, 2021


Local artists Vanessa Tembani and Stephen Langa are set to showcase their latest artworks at an intimate group exhibition titled I Surrender to Creation.

The exhibition attempts to examine and assess the various methods that young contemporary artists use to create their artworks.

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On what drew her to the project, rising star Vanessa Tembane explained: “A lot of times people seem to think that contemporary art has to come from some mind-numbing esoteric space.

“But I found it refreshing to see a curatorial standpoint that was about the process of creating and what that might or might not look like for the artist.

"As an artist whose work is very much driven by the process. A lot of time, I feel like I am just a conduit for the work.

“If not through me, the work would probably come to life through some other person in some other way.”

For Stephen Langa, it is “all different mediums from different artists, with different perceptions, experiences and challenges we all encounter” in the attempt to bring different ideas to life.

Langa’s work explores themes of love, social and economic politics.

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“I specialise in charcoal, oil painting, and watercolours. I was born in Mpumalanga, and I grew up in Limpopo, so my work is inspired by personal tales from different people, also highlighting my experience from my homeland and the city, as visually detailed in my journal of both worlds by capturing scenes that capture my interests,” shared Langa.

Stephen Langa,'s 'In a place of cool reason, Oil on canvas. Picture: Supplied

Tembani predominantly works with collage making processes that are integrated with printmaking techniques.

Her works explore themes of memory, displacement, migration, and feelings of “in-betweenness that make come with the assumption” of hybrid identities.

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“My collages address the sense of loss that I feel with my family in Mozambique following my mother’s migration to South Africa.

“I have always felt that I was born into a displaced space. While I was born and raised here, my history is rooted in both South Africa and my mother’s native country, Mozambique.

“As a child, I could not distinguish my identity between being South African or Mozambican. I always identified myself with both countries.

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“This feeling of loss is also informed by the differences in culture, language, and the distance between myself and my Mozambican family,” Tembani revealed.

She continued: “My collages become a means of telling stories about my origins. While my mother’s past was not my own, the photographs from her home community enable me to almost feel as if I have experienced her sense of loss of her place of birth and markers of her Chopi identity.

“The collages that I make using these photographs help identify with my mother’s country of origin by constructing new imagined memories for myself, and through this, to attempt to achieve a sense of belonging."

Vanessa Tembani in a gallery. Picture: Supplied

While Langa draws inspiration for his work from African art legends the likes of George Pemba, Joe Maseko, Ephraim Ngatane, Azael Langa, Greatjoy Ndlovu and Nelson Makamo,Tembani credits Wanja Kimani and Ijeoma Umembiyo as the biggest influence of her work.

“Nigerian-born poet Ijeoma Umembiyo has heavily influenced my work and thought processes. Her poetry focuses on concepts of love, womanhood, displacement, loss and the African experience.

“Her poems have always resonated with me because she manages to articulate one of the most fundamental human desires, which is the need to belong. I am also influenced by the works of Kenyan-born Wanja Kimani.

“Her work takes the form of performances and installations that are accompanied by photographs and videos.

“Although our artistic practises are quite different, both Kimani and I draw from personal experiences to understand the fluidity, changeability and unreliability of memory and its relationship with time,” Tembani commented.

“I Surrender to Creation: An Intimate Group Exhibition” is currently taking place at Riboville Boutique Hotel, Midrand, till January 28.