Travel

Kulani Nkuna
3 minute read
2 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Young artists given new space to showcase works

Kulani Nkuna

In the creative world, space has become the artist's capital and its use represents an ode to artistic imagination.

Zama Phakathi looking relaxed before the opening of her gallery tomorrow night. Picture: Solomon Moremong

New ways are constantly sought to curate expression, whether it be dance, drama, fine art or even sports.

A focus on the aesthetic representation of the space involved usually drives an idea and in using a container to curate fine art, Zama Phakathi’s vision is an extension of looking at spaces alternatively.

The container is similar to that used to carry cargo at harbours around the world, or those favoured by storage companies. The last time these were popular in the township was when they served as expanded communal telephone booths where locals congregated to make calls. It is not often that such a space is envisioned as an artistic space, as is the case with Phakathi and her Stop Sign Art Gallery at the Maboneng Precinct.

“I have been curating exhibitions for some time now, and I knew that I wanted to eventually have my own space to showcase art,” Phakathi says, explaining her new endeavour.

Zama Phakathi takes a breather before works from The Other Side Of Jozi exhibition are hung. Picture: Solomon Moremong.

Zama Phakathi takes a breather before works from
The Other Side Of Jozi exhibition are hung. Picture: Solomon Moremong.

“The idea to use the container appealed to me as it was a way to use space in a different manner. The container also means that although it is based in Maboneng, it can be a mobile tool as well, because I also plan to have pop-ups in different locations. I considered other locations as well when I was looking at spaces for a gallery, but then I realised that one does not necessarily want to have a space for the sake of having a space next to law firms or the corporate world. I believe that energies are of vital importance and that is why Maboneng was the ultimate choice.”

The Stop Sign Art Gallery’s first exhibition titled The Other Side Of Jozi opens tomorrow evening, and will feature works from Andrew Ntshabele and Senzo Shabangu. The exhibition refocuses the lens, taking a close look at the other side of Johannesburg’s structures and the promise that the city holds. The city is often described as a concrete jungle where dreams are peddled on the sidewalk, and the exhibition examines the rewards to be found in new ideas that are hatched as a result of Johannesburg’s energy.

The majority of Ntshabele’s works are painted and drawn in realistic style, with his subject matter mostly focusing on the poor and the marginalized people who eke out a living in the inner city and its outskirts. Shabangu’s inspiration is life-based experiences and the pressures of life in Johannesburg.

“The focus is on showcasing mid-career artists, which means that the artists are not yet established but are well on their way,” explains Phakathi.

“The prices of the artworks will not be exorbitant either, meaning that there will be greater accessibility for art lovers who don’t necessarily have big budgets.”

Art cannot be separated from Phakathi, whether it is in the conversations she engages in with friends or her fashion sense, or even the way she styles her hair. At times her accessories are made out of materials not readily associated with fashion.

Zama Phakathi inside her Stop Sign Art Gallery in the Maboneg Precinct. Picture: Solomon Moremong.

Zama Phakathi inside her Stop Sign Art Gallery in the Maboneg Precinct. Picture: Solomon Moremong.

“My interest in art is something that I was born with. Since I can remember, I have always seen things differently,” she says.

“This is expressed every day in the way that I dress, my hairstyles and how I carry myself. I’m an art piece myself – you can frame me and put me in a gallery!”

“I always attended exhibitions due to my appreciation of art and it was when I co-ordinated an artist’s residency that my passion was formalised, because I truly believe that is a calling for me,” Phakathi concludes.