The time we have to absorb and emit energy requires us to direct our forces towards a meaningful positive course for the present and future times, whilst observing the ways of yesteryears. One way, through which a son of the earth shines his light, emitting positive visual energies, is through the marriage of canvass and colour. Loyiso Mkize gave us a narration of his latest body of work. And what a way to express that which words alone cannot describe.
Loyiso Mkize, apart from being a prolific comic book illustrator, is a world renowned painter and he shared with us some of the things that were at the backdrop in the coming to life of his latest body of work as well as their significance.
He said, “[t]he work is a continuation of My Reflection (Catalogues of Works), but this time around it is more direct and what is special about this particular collection was the fact that, even before I approached the canvass, I had very strong ideas and very strong constructed concepts for each of the three paintings.
“I was talking about love, I was talking about war, I was talking about beauty, divinity, I was talking about miseducation, I was talking about the dynamics between African men and women, about that relationship that the male principle has with the female principle in the African context,” he said, “What is the dynamic there? What is the conversation there? Is there a conversation? Can we delve into the issues that we have between the sexes and sort of find the issues pertaining to that and then hopefully find some kind of cathartic answer or ending towards the story.”
He made mention of how it was such a big journey for him, for instance how he has never painted both male and female on the same portrait. “It was a big undertaking hence the size of the portrait,” he said.
Oil and Acrylic on canvas
2.6m x 1.6m
“The idea at the end of the day when it comes to all of these artworks is to set a statement just as I have done before with my artworks,” he said, “It is investigating further again the African narrative, the African identity, again pursuing it, again pursuing through images that thing that is necessary going forward in this particular community of people and in the diaspora to start having some form of authority not only in telling our stories but also devising what our identity is, what our visual identity is as well.”
The aesthetics of the pieces of his current work are evidence of the hard work invested in their creation, spot on as well as exquisite like most of his previous work. “I took quite a bit of time devising and designing the aesthetic to make it very iconic and different and unique in one way or the other,” he said.
“The narrative of the pieces I think was necessary, it was necessary in the sense that it made them much more unique and helped me tell the story in a much more direct way. For instance, there is one piece titled Spirit of a Warrior which is a very direct story about the conflicted psyche of a black male in the present world that we live in, where he finds himself no longer in a position of authority or in a position of control and command. So, you’ve got this male figure who is bearded, has lines on his back, there is images of lost, there is images of power, there is so many conflicting images which help to reflect what I view as the predicament in the African masculinity.”
He said, “The pieces are very direct just as the narrative is very direct it talks about how bastardized the masculine principle in the African continent and in the diaspora has become. It is a feared presence, it is a scorned presence.
Spirit of a Warrior
“As one begins to reflect one starts to realise that there has been a lot of effort to undermine Africans because there is huge power and potential and potency that comes with the African identity that is why it is constantly undermined. If it is not, then, you start to see the potential and you start to see people exercising their potential and doing things that would otherwise, historically, not have the platform to be seen. And the world is now starting to see it; I think the world is apprehensive towards it and hence we find this turmoil, hence we find this conflict and hence we find this male figure where he has no steak in it desperately trying, as any self-respecting man would, to find his place, claim his place and then build his home because that is where it all is.
“It is developing the African home, when I talk about umz’ontsundu, the big piece titled Umz’ontsundu, I am talking about the African home. I am talking about the depths that it goes to, because once you can actually root out the issues of that home, build and invest and write about the information and affirmation into that home; you build that home and once you build that home you build that community, once you build that community you build that nation, once you build that nation you build the continent and I think that is the idea. It is a very inward, outward type of setup with those artworks and we all come together to some sort of realization, in one way or the other that we need to start reclaiming ourselves; that is the only answer and it is not in any way negative towards anyone else, it is just pro self.”
It is the revenge of the gift, killing it with bleeding shadings and hues and getting away from the scene with a vivid description of a black psyche. Khabazela!
By Themba Ka Mhlanga