by Nwabisa Moyo
Art has been a part of our lives for ages. It has become an industry that has grown and started to overlap into new industries with which we interact daily. Prior to the evolution of art, its home was on a canvas or a piece of paper, but now it has become more accessible, finding itself expressed on clothes, home appliances, landmarks, shoes, and even walls, not in the form of graffiti, but in its true form, art.
Over the years, the art scene in South Africa has grown tremendously, and so has its relationship with other industries. Previously, in many households, and currently in a few households, the mention of wanting to be an artist was as good as begging for a fight from your family. However, as the times have evolved so too has our understanding of what art is and what it means to people. More South African children and parents are now open to the endless possibilities that this industry offers. This rise in understanding that art can also become a stable career has led to a rise in artists and the distribution, exhibition, and purchasing of art.
Over the past few years, we have seen the rise of artists like Nelson Makamo, Fhatuwani Mukhelli, Seth Pimental, Mmabatho Montsho, and Simphiwe Mokgoka. With the rising of South African Artists came an increase in interaction between the art scene and many other industries which, at first glance, are far from being artsy, but upon careful inspection, pair well with a touch of creativity.
This industry has contributed greatly to the workplace, giving clients something to keep them busy while waiting to be helped. Many office spaces like creating comfortable and interesting environments for clients to wait in, which will make clients less weary of the time that they have to wait to be assisted. One way to do this is to display objects that will distract the customers, like art pieces, which then create the connection between the art industry and the corporate world. A growing artist in South Africa, Simphiwe Mokgoka, who makes stunning portraits containing his signature paint-dripping look, has managed to build the bridge between the corporate and the creative worlds. He has done so by using his talent in art to create art pieces that will accompany calendars for the well-known company “Brainstorm”, and he has had clients purchase artworks for the purpose of displaying in their office spaces.
Art has also played a large role even in politics as a form of amplifying people’s voices, concerns, and for spreading information of injustices people have faced. This was seen in the recent police brutality cases faced by South Africans as well as Black Americans. Through art, the voices of the oppressed were amplified, and it played a large role in bringing attention to the bad treatment of people like Nathaniel Julius by the police force in South Africa. Art has recently been used to bring attention to the unfortunate event of the passing of Mthokozisi Ntumba, who was shot by the police during the Wits Protests. The use of art to bring attention to political issues is not one that came about yesterday.
In a similar vein, art was used by the renowned illustrator, powerhouse, creative, and impactful Karabo Poppy Moletsane, popularly known as Karabo Poppy, to merge the art world with many other worlds, such as the homeware, landmark, mural, literature, and fashion industries. She used her skills to integrate the art scene with the landmark industry through her work done on one of the Soweto towers in collaboration with Soweto Beer. Her art has since been showcased through further industries such as the fashion industry, after her collaboration with international clothing brand Nike.
This collection, apart from being on Nike shelves, is also on the shelf of the popular basketball player Lebron James. From being in our closet, to being near our streets, to being in our kitchens through Karabo’s collaboration with Russel Hobbs, where she creatively decorated kitchen appliances like kettles and coffee makers.
That’s the proof! Art is not merely meant for a blank canvas, and yet anything can be a blank canvas, waiting for an artist to bring out the art in it.