Artist Zwelethu Mthethwa has coined a
phrase to sum up black people in South Africa: “the new citizens”.
excluded from all the “benefits of full citizenship until very recently,
be specific”, he explains.
We meet at Circa on Jellicoe in Rosebank, which is hosting his
exhibition of photographs and pastel drawings.
sipping red wine on a sofa. “I only drink wine and single malt whiskey,” he
show continues his focus on “people who exist on the periphery of society.
has a strong football element and also speaks about green issues.”
reclining mother. Through a window there’s a grey, lightning-filled sky over an
Mthethwa says the tumultuous
sky is a comment on the ozone layer and air pollution.
behind the camera.
His drawings seem richer in colour and imagination than his
Mthethwa’s subjects, who exist in
abject poverty, are kept hopeful and resilient by the strength of his riotous
mediums,” he says, “and they demand different approaches.
photography, one works from the given and must then edit out.
When I’m drawing
or painting, I can put in things from everywhere – fantasy and reality can be
merged – which I can’t in my photos.”
are his poor, black subjects. However, he argues that he is not romanticising
first,” he says.
He always sends them the images for approval.
because I’m the one who goes into their spaces, I have to deal with being
uncomfortable there. So I’m the stranger in their world.”
is merely recording history. “It’s time our stories are told by other black
» Is it our goal…? And other related issues, an exhibition by
Zwelethu Mthethwa, runs at Circa On Jellicoe in
Rosebank until the end of June
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