A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Special Guest Blogger: Christen Faver, MA in African Studies
During my time at the Living Artists Emporium, in Johannesburg, it was interesting to be at the forefront of emerging art. What I had not expected was the diverse art movements that had come out of this humble collective. Two of the major movements were the Superblur movement, started by artist Conrad Bo, and the Khanda-Art, Sythentic Cubism movement, started by Siyabonga Mlambi. The manifestos of these movements have been integrated into the styles and artist statements of many of the local creatives. This post aims to explore some of the fundamentals of these movements that have been founded over the last eight years.
Some of the artists that have operated in this movement are Conrad Bo, Vincent Mbeje, Simphiwe Mlangeni, and Ayanda Nkosi.
An example can be seen in the following painting by Vincent Mbeje titled VB06.
It is evident that there are elements of abstraction in these humanistic figures. Furthermore, common elements such as the barcode lines and equations are incorporate in an ode to the mundanity created by repetition. There is no clear message communicated through imagery or definition, as the painting is largely unexplained.
Khanda-Art, Sythentic Cubism Manifesto:
Mlambi describes his movement as a “style [that] entertains the viewer with beauty and desire that the eye cannot see but only the heart can feel”. Mlambi really came to define this movement in the last year, and officially published details of Khanda-Art in February of 2021. The development of Khanda-Art can be found in the definition of Khanda. This term is of Nguni-origin. It can be understood as the process of creating something from scratch. More specifically, the process of moulding and development to create something of intrinsic value. This art movement is the child of a universe whose roots have a stronghold in (South) Africa. The aim and desire of Khanda-Art, specifically, is to entertain the viewer with a beauty that encourages your imagination to flow and push-boundaries beyond your wildest expectations.
An example can be seen in the following painting by Siyabonga Mlambi titled M58.
It is evident that Mlambi draws heavily from cubist influences as his artworks tend to have strong geometric features. Furthermore, his process of “creating from scratch” can be seen in every piece, as each one is mixed-medium and uses found materials. Some of the most common materials used in his work are bottle caps, paint cans, tin, string and cardboard. That being said, the intrinsic beauty that Mlambi intends to convey is a wholly subjective experience.
Although Arthur Danto preached “the end of art” in 2015 it would appear that innovation still holds true in the creative sectors. It is well-worth documenting new niche movements that are emerging, and I might add, very quickly gaining ground.