By BRUCE DENNILL
Lindani Nyandeni, an Umlazi, Durban-based artist, is showcasing his art at KZNSA Art Gallery as part of KZNSA’s second Young Artists’ Project of 2020. His work is a visual exploration of his childhood experiences, having lost his mother at the age of six. This exhibition explores his imaginings as to what life would’ve been like if he grew up around her warmth and teachings.
What sort of training have you received and how important do you think it is to seek training in terms of learning first principles and refining technique?
I received my visual arts training from many arts centres in KwaZulu-Natal, such as the BAT Centre Visual Arts Annual Programme In 2014. I excelled and showed commitment in that programme and as a result, I was selected to study textile printing at Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre between 2015 and 2016. In 2017, I enrolled for the African Art Centre’s art classes, titled Velobala. The classes were held on Saturday at the Durban University of Technology fine art department. From 2018 to 2020, I was a recipient of a full-time mentorship programme from two Durban-based visual artists – Sthenjwa Luthuli and Wonder Buhle Mbambo – in their arts studios. The process of studying has been important in my development as an artist. It’s important to study so that you can develop in terms of technique and theory and be able to adapt to the contemporary art scene. Having studied at different art centres has gave me a strong practical base and focus on developing my technique and art principles. The mentorship programme also helped in moulding and moving my art practice from a traditional medium type of artist to being able to produce work that has a contemporary feel and is rich in technique.
What is your principal medium, and why did you choose it?
Drawing and oil pastel mixed media on paper. I find drawing more flexible in that I can merge and blend it with any medium and be able to produce a successful art piece. The medium I use enables me to speak directly to my concept, so in my work I interrogate the past and the present, using relevant metaphors.
Describe the techniques you use most? How complicated are your methods, and why is each step necessary?
My work features semi-abstract portraits and figures rendered in a stylised manner. My subjects are shown in a wash-like style that metaphorically translates to nostalgia. I carefully use the relevant techniques and methods that metaphorically speak to my concept, but as an artist, I continue to experiment and explore in order to find new and fresh ways to present my work.
Who is the single other artist whose style you most admire, and why?
Jean Michel Basquiat. He was the first recognised artist who came from the black community in America. His works make a social comment between the toxic relationship between wealth and poverty and integration versus segregation. His works speaks about self-introspection, identity, subverting and attacking power structures and systems of racism. I like the way he explored and used media in his work as he was showing curiosity and expression. He gave me a lot of inspiration as a young artist, showing me that, with my work, I can inspire change in someone else, and that through my work I am able to speak about issues that affect society.
Galleries and other traditional means are only one way of marketing art. What do you believe are the most Important other routes, and what is the most important insight you have gained in that area in your career?
Social media is a powerful tool in marketing an artist and their works. With social media, an artist does not need to wait for his work to be on exhibition in order to make a living. The artist can simply upload an artwork on Facebook or Instagram and be able to connect with patrons. It is even more powerful in times of COVID-19, where galleries are closed and people aren’t keen on going out. That said, all routes are important, because they all contribute in building a strong base for the artist.
Why do you create? What are your stated goals in producing art?
To me, art is a podium and a pedestal to voice my thoughts and observations, to engage, question and comment on myself and societal ills. Through art, my goals are to strike up discussion, bring to light the challenges that we face and be able to reach a broader audience nationally and internationally.