Popular
Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata

Fezekile "Khwezi" Kuzwayo. Oil on Canvas.

Spotlight: Fonseca and Mokgata's Artworks Explore Past and Present Societal Traumas

Get familiar with the work of South African visual art duo Carla Fonseca and Nthato Mokgata.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Carla Fonseca and Nthato Mokgata, a Johannesburg-based South African duo whose multimedia visual artworks explore historical and current societal traumas in South Africa. Read more about the inspirations behind their work below, and check out some of their stunning visual works underneath. Be sure to keep up with the duo on Instagram and Facebook.

Their responses have have been edited for length and clarity.


Briefly describe your background as an artist and what led to you creating art.

Mokgata: I have always loved visual art since I was young, and despite always having fun with drawing, I thought it was not for me. I would doodle and draw and think how terrible my work was in comparison to my peers. It was only after dropping out of med school that I decided to dedicate myself to various forms of art and developed my visual art through graphic design work.

Fonseca: I've been creating art all my life. I use many different mediums to achieve my objectives namely such as theatre, film and performance art. This is my first time openly sharing my love for creating fine art.

What are the central messages or themes underpinning your work?

Mokgata: My artistic practice is focused on challenging notions of the "black aesthetic", history, self-determination, nationhood, identity, and pan-Africanism. I use my art to express the perspectives of a highly innovative, tech savvy and highly traumatised generation of South Africans. I consider the function of my work to be social therapy; to confront our collective trauma and find healing through the manipulation and transcendence of aesthetics.

Fonseca: My work is often based on a struggle to see the end of all forms of gender-based violence in our society. Stylistically, our work addresses themes of aesthetic politics, language and hierarchy, history and the power dynamics surrounding historical presentation, migration, power and violence as a language in culture. We explore painful and dark themes that are symptomatic of our society; while also reaching for a better reality. We use our work as an antidote to denialism in our society.

What would you describe as your best work thus far?

Mokgata: It is hard to pick a favourite, as I think the different works and series have vastly different merits, but I have been enjoying Umama Uyakhala a lot lately. In referencing the Black Madonna, Umama Uyakhala––a meditation on SA's repugnant culture of gender-based violence––calls on a universal and ageless vision of the long-suffering, responsible, loving and devoted mother. A highlight of Marian devotion, the original icon of the Black Madonna goes back to medieval tradition, and possibly further back.

Fonseca: Tough question but I'll highlight one of our works that means a lot to me––the portrait of Fezekile Khuzwayo. She is kind of a martyr of our failed state, a representative of so many women who have suffered the injustices of violence and lawlessness in our country. It's a dedication to a woman I respect with all my heart and in some way, a portrait of my own trauma.

Bumaye. Oil on Canvas. Bumaye. Oil on Canvas.Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Hypatia's Theory. Oil on Canvas. Hypatia's Theory. Oil on Canvas. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Josina Machel. Oil on Canvas. Josina Machel. Oil on Canvas. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Error404 - Ancestor 4, 2019(c). Oil on Canvas. Error404 - Ancestor 4, 2019(c). Oil on Canvas. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Fees Must Burn. Oil on Canvas. Fees Must Burn. Oil on Canvas. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Pastor Khandi'Mali I. Oil on Canvas. Pastor Khandi'Mali I. Oil on Canvas. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Rainha Makeda. Rainha Makeda. Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata


Error404 - Ancestor 1, 2019(c). Error404 - Ancestor 1, 2019(c). Image courtesy of Fonseca & Mokgata

Popular
Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images.

Angélique Kidjo on Africa Day: 'We demand not to be at the mercy of our circumstances anymore.'

We speak to the inimitable Angélique Kidjo who shares some of her refreshing thoughts on Africa Day.

Today is Africa Day and while primarily a commemoration of the formation of the African Union (AU) back in 1963, it has also become an opportunity to unapologetically celebrate Africa while providing a moment for reflection on how far we've come as a continent and as a people.

With this year's theme focused on "Silencing the Guns in the context of the COVID19", there has never been a more important time for deep reflection on our collective present and future as Africans.

And who better to share in that reflection than the legendary and inimitable Beninese musician Angélique Kidjo? A fierce African and artist who has paved the way for many of her contemporaries including Burna Boy, Davido, Thandiswa Mazwai, and several others, the four-time Grammy award winner emphasises the urgent need for unity among Africans. 'It's about time that people start realising that Africa is a continent. I've been saying this my entire career,' she says passionately.

OkayAfrica spoke briefly to Kidjo who shared some of her refreshing thoughts on this year's Africa Day.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Thandiswa Mazwai to Host 'Play Your Part Africa' Virtual Concert

'King Tha' will commemorate Africa Day with a virtual concert set to take place on May 30th.