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Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated

Triumph: New show by Lwando Dlamini

We chat to Cape Town-based artist Lwando Dlamini about his style, subject matter and current solo show at Ebony/Curated.

Describing himself as “an emerging artist in an endless search for himself”, Lwando Dlamini’s oil and mixed media paintings delve into his own story and unpack subjects like violence, police brutality, the fragility of the human body as well as one’s existence. In the few short years since he graduated from Ruth Prowse School of Art, Lwando Dlamini has gained an impressive portfolio of group shows, awards and accolades. Catch his show, entitled Triumph, at Ebony/Curated, 67 Loop Street now until the end of August 2020.

As a black male in South Africa, what challenges have you been up against in becoming a career artist?

Because of our history, most of us young black-kids come from a previously disadvantaged
background; thus making it extremely difficult for us to pursue our passion. In addition, where we are geographically located is usually far from the galleries in the CBD and exhibitions are usually in the evenings, so one’s safety is an added concern.

Who do you really admire in the art world and why?

Mostly the older South African generation, the likes of Nicholas Hlobo, Igshaan Adams, Kemang Wa Lehulere amongst many others, and I have high regard for my fellow contemporary practitioners too (my generation). I admire how brave they are, ever challenging their practice and taking it to the next level. I also love that they allow their imagination and instinct to govern what happens next in their works.

What do you hope your contribution to the art-loving world will be?

Love, hope and forgiveness.

I have always hoped to inspire a sense of hope despite life’s difficulties and most importantly to practice and teach forgiveness. The latter is a personal quest, as I can be one to hold a grudge but I am learning that by forgiving and moving forward, you’re simultaneously allowing the positive energy to take over and rise above all other challenges. Essentially this is what I wish my works to contribute to the art world.

Who has created the biggest impact on your career and how?

Different people help us for various parts of our careers and the help from those people would then bring us closer to the next stage and the next person who will contribute their part. For me, the people who come to mind right now are a lovely art-collecting couple called Mandla and Hlubi Shezi from Johannesburg; they helped me out at the most challenging point in my career while in Johannesburg (2018-19) and words would never be enough to express my gratitude towards them.

Your work regularly covers police brutality in the townships…how do you think art contributes to this issue?

Firstly, I think as an artist we all create from what we are or have experienced personally. I was reading an article a few days ago by Ashraf Jamal who said, as people we are attached to what we think matters most to us (definitely the case with me). As a result, in my own practice, I started off by talking about police brutality, because I was fortunate to survive a near-death experience from being brutally assaulted by corrupt South African police in 2012. It resulted in a coma and the fact that I lost the case to it just took me to a dark place. So, police brutality is a subject that cuts close to the bone. Through my art-making and doing what feels right to me- I’ve learnt to come to terms with what happened and to forgive…perhaps forgive myself too.

If you had R50 000 to spend on any one artist’s work, whose would you choose and why?

Johannesburg based artist, Yolanda Mazwana. I admire that she is self-taught, and I really appreciate her work ethic and commitment to her practice. I’m a huge fan of her illustrative style and the enchanting, vivid colours she uses. Also, I like the fact that she taps on the subject matter of mental illness, which resonates with my past.

Tell us about your exhibition with Ebony/Curated…

It’s my first solo exhibition. Like those before me and certainly for those after me- the first solo exhibition is always a highlight in one’s career. I really want to put my best foot forward in everything I do in my career, but for my solo show I want to give it everything.

Any pieces you’d like to highlight for us in that collection of works?

Always a tricky question for me to answer, but for now, it would have to be two works entitled: ‘Self Portrait II’ and ‘Wolf-Gang’.

Talk us through some of the techniques you like to use in creating your works.

I’m inspired by the Renaissance painting movement and I often paint people I know personally. But I also really like the idea of merging paint with other mediums such as bandages, chevron tape, stitching and many more. When I paint, I use photographs for reference, but I completely create my own fictional version of that reference. Most of the time I have no idea how the end product will look, but, like I said, I just do what feels right to me at that moment.

Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated
'These are the Champions' (2020), oil, thread, elastic band, graphite and bandages on canvas, 120x170cm
Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated
'Lwandile Dlamini' (2020), oil on canvas, 90x75cm
Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated
'Wolf-Gang' (2020), oil on canvas, 90x75cm
Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated
'Beautiful Pain II' (2020), oil and ink on canvas, 80x60cm
Art - Lwando Dlamini, Ebony/Curated
'Self Portrait II' (2020), oil thread and zipper on canvas, 82x59cm

ebonycurated.com

WORDS: MILA PROUDFOOT PRODUCTION: J-P DE LA CHAUMETTE PHOTOGRAPHY: MARC STANES