2013’s rising art stars

2014-01-01 06:00

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Music producer Heavy K. Picture: Trevor Kunene

Heavy K (dance music)

Heavy K exploded onto South Africa’s dance floors in 2013 with Wena and A Beautiful War featuring Professor being some of the biggest tracks of summer.

The dance music producer’s real name is Mkhululi Siqula. Born in Veeplaas, Port Elizabeth, Heavy K is not an overnight sensation even though he only blew up this year.

He has worked with Bucie and is credited with producing Professor’s hit track, Lento, in 2010 while he was still a teenager.

A self-taught composer, songwriter, producer, DJ and performer (together with his crew Point 5) he is signed to Kalawa Jazmee.

At only 22, he has already worked with Big Nuz, Tira, Cyndo, Black Coffee, Mahoota, Revolution, Black Motion, DJ Sox and MXO. Internationally, he has worked with Claude Monnet, Torre, Cabo Snoop and Martin East.

Next big thing alert right here!

Performance artist Donna Kukama. Picture: Timmy Henny

Donna Kukama (performance art)

A new generation of performance artists is emerging taking its work outside the gallery space and into the public. Rising fast in the avant-garde pack in 2013 was Donna Kukama.

Using performance, video, text and sound, Kukama emerges in public spaces to challenge existing narratives, create “poetic disturbances” and to make people stop and think.

She once famously broke her leg while doing a performance hanging from a highway bridge in the hip Maboneng Precinct in Joburg. Commenting on the rich gentrifying the area, creating upmarket accommodation, fancy shops and displacing downtown residents, Kukama was throwing money at passers-by on the ground when her swing broke and she fell.

Born in 1981 in Mafikeng, she studied fine arts at the Tshwane University of Technology, completed her postgraduate studies at the École Cantonale d’Art du Valais in Sierre, Switzerland, in 2008, under Maps (Master of Arts in the Public Sphere), and is a faculty member at the Wits School of Arts. She is the 2014 winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Performance Art.

Synth-pop star Jean-Philip Grobler. Picture: Supplied

St Lucia (international pop)

They may not be well known at home (yet) but in the US, St Lucia is on everyone’s lips as one of the significant new bands to rise in 2013. The synth-pop outfit with tropical styles and a searing catchiness to their beautifully sung tracks is fronted by South African Jean-Philip Grobler.

As a soloist in the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir, a young Grobler sang for a newly released Nelson Mandela at the top of a mountain. Today, he is a rising star in New York and is known to his growing band of fans as St Lucia.

BuzzFeed, spotters of viral trends on the web, this year placed St Lucia’s “catchy as hell” single Elevate in first place on a list of “the best pop songs you might have missed this summer” ahead of the band’s debut album release.

Most people assume the name comes from the island in the Caribbean. In fact, it comes from the lush wetlands area of KwaZulu-Natal.

Writer Songeziwe Mahlangu. Picture: Kwela Books

Songeziwe Mahlangu (books)

There is a fair amount of buzz around Songeziwe Mahlangu’s 2013 debut novel Penumbra. Some of it may be hype – everyone is looking for the next brilliant young black South African novelist to pick up from where K Sello Duiker, Dambudzo Marechera and Phaswane Mpe left off.

Mahlangu certainly follows in their traditions and so it’s obviously not always a pretty sight.

The 28-year-old writer was born in the Eastern Cape town of Alice, matriculated in King William’s Town and obtained a business science degree at the University of Cape Town. He then did his Masters in creative writing, which resulted in Penumbra.

Like his protagonist, Mahlangu works in an accounting firm. But in Penumbra, Mangaliso Zolo quits his accounting job and veers between drugs, church and mental breakdowns. It’s a harrowing tale of a black boy in the white world of Cape Town and could well mark the beginning of big things to come.

Singer-songwriter Nakhane Touré. Picture: Supplied

Nakhane Touré (singer-songwriter)

There’s no doubt that the biggest splash on the more arty side of musical things in 2013 was made by the brother from the Eastern Cape with the beautifully tortured voice and hugely intelligent lyrical references.

The guitar-toting 25-year-old was born Nakhane Mavuso but took the surname Touré as a way of honouring his hero, Ali Farka Touré, the Malian guitar wizard.

Touré follows in a growing male lineage of singing guitarists from Eastern Cape but with a more hybrid and emotionally frank approach.

The title of his 2013 debut album, Brave Confusion, is derived from James Baldwin’s seminal novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. Like Baldwin, Touré writes frankly about being gay and his issues with masculinity.

Art band TBMO. Picture: Muntu Vilakazi

The Brother Moves On (band)

A New Myth is the name of the 2013 debut full-length album by experimental art and performance band The Brother Moves On (abbreviated to TBMO). And a new myth in the making is what they are. They make the list for offering a glimpse of the future of African bands as a fusion of art forms and disciplines.

The performance art ensemble from Johannesburg was founded somewhere between 2008 and 2010 by broad-based artist Nkululeko Mthembu.

Wikipedia writes of them: “TBMO began as a self-proclaimed art movement mainly of graphic and fine artists and since began incorporating instrumentalists for the live performance environment. The name, The Brother Moves On, is a grammatical misconfiguration of The Brother Mouzone, a fictional character in the American television drama series The Wire. In their emerging stages, the movement interrogated the notion that members were each an impermanent part of the process. Hence the derivation of the name The Brother Moves On.”

Opera singer Phumeza Matshikiza. Picture: Supplied

Phumeza Matshikiza (opera)

In 2013, Phumeza Matshikiza signed a worldwide representation deal with Intermusica accompanied by a global recording contract with Decca Classics/Universal Music. Britain’s The Independent newspaper described her as “one of today’s most exciting new operatic voices”.

The South African lyric soprano’s star is rising with a new album set for an early release in 2014.

She is at the forefront of a group of emerging opera stars from South Africa. Matshikiza has been a member of the ensemble at the Stuttgart State Opera for the past two years with new productions of Verdi’s Falstaff and Puccini’s La Bohème, singing the roles of Nanetta and Mimi respectively.

Her recent roles include Annchen in Weber’s Der Freischutz, Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.

Matshikiza studied at the University Of Cape Town College Of Music before continuing her studies at the Royal College of Music in London.

Artist Blessing Ngobeni. Picture: Denvor de Wee

Blessing Ngobeni (visual art)

Blessing Ngobeni began his emergence as a young art star as the winner of the Reinhold Cassirer Award last year. The award is supported by Nadine Gordimer and involves a residency at the Bag Factory, one of Johannesburg’s notable art venues.

In bestowing the award on Ngobeni, The Bag Factory had this to say about his work: “The most profound part of his application is the work itself. His paintings are filled with the irony of the cabaret, sporting the influences of Norman Catherine and Miró while never forgetting his township roots.”

He combines found objects and magazine cuttings with his distinctive painting style.

In 2013, his name was constantly bandied about as the next big thing on the art scene. He was awarded the Arts and Culture Trust’s impact award for visual arts, showed his critically acclaimed solo work at the Bag Factory and was praised at the FNB Joburg Art Fair as offers to exhibit internationally began to grow.

Ngobeni was born in Tzaneen, Limpopo, but left for Joburg when he was 10 years old. He turned to crime to survive and found himself in prison. It was there that he was exposed to art classes and the rest, as they say, is history.

Radio presenter Siphokazi January. Picture: Lucky Nxumalo

Siphokazi January (radio)

Locking it down as a major player in radio this year, Siphokazi January recently returned to Joziwood after several years in the Eastern Cape working as a host on Tru FM.

The pastor’s daughter had to move around constantly during her childhood and it is no surprise that she returned to Jozi to present Full Circle on Metro FM after her Bhisho sabbatical.

When Metro FM made sweeping changes to its line-up in April, January made her return to the limelight, replacing Azania Mosaka who had moved to Power FM after commanding the mid-morning slot on Metro.

January emerged as part of the group of continuity presenters on SABC1 back in the days of Simunye and she was all of 19 at the time. She had graduated from UCT and did a presenting course to prep herself for the presenting industry.

Her “vivacious personality and energy” can be heard on The Full Circle on Metro FM weekdays from 09:00-12:00.

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