Artist Masonwabe Ntloko whose illustrations tap deep into Xhosa traditions for inspiration is to hold an exhibition in a Parkhurst gallery

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

When I first met this young man in Maboneng about two years ago, he was at the cusp of artistic success. He had just clinched a collaborative deal with a well-known brand that sells upmarket cushions to these moneyed.  This is the deal that changed his life and the direction his art and brand had to take. When we first met, it was when COVID -19 had somehow retreated a bit, allowing for space for human connection. We both took advantage of that window to meet and discuss his success as an illustrator. The artists had found both his voice in the competitive visual art space by creating illustrations that could be used on everyday utilities that needed an artistic touch as well as in his artistic practice.

The cushions were just one area where he had found his first collaboration. That collaboration became a running success. The cushions that he had illustrated sold out within a day of being put on the market in an upmarket shop in Parkhurst. That sealed his commercial success in future designs.

I have since been to one more event where, sometime late last year also in Maboneng, at the Hallmark Building where he had again collaborated with others to create T-Shirts that were to be sold at one of South Africa’s biggest music festivals.

Whereas his works have since been embraced through these collaborations, the public however until now, have had no opportunity to view his creations on close range, in an intimate space like an art gallery. The advantage of viewing art in a gallery set up is that it allows  for an intimate conversation between the art work and the viewer. An intelligent and meditative engagement that allows for contemplation between the art work and the audience often takes place. A reflectio0n that allows the viewer to get into the meaning of the artwork they are looking and interpret it in the way they see takes place. It is always a pleasurable experience when a viewer can feel and rationalise about the art work in close physical proximity.

However those that have been yearning for a time when they will come face to face with his works in an intimate venue this week have an opportunity to do so. The Dutywa-born illustrator, designer, and visual artist, Masonwabe Ntloko will take the audience on a journey on Thursday 23rd February 2023 from 18:00 p.m. to 22:00 p.m. for his solo art exhibition,ILISO LO Moya.  The exhibition will openat The Katmo Gallery (41 6th Street, Parkhurst). This is a wonderful chance to admire the artist’s stunning creations and the unique concepts he portrays.

No doubt this exhibition is yet another excellent, captivating body of work, testament to Masonwabe’s commitment to telling stories through his art. He prides himself in preserving our collective heritage, with more emphasis on his Xhosa roots. His work is a mirror of traditional Xhosa life and its seasons, from initiation, matriarchs in Xhosa regalia and the way life still is for many rural households.

For the artists so far, life has been good, especially his commercial side of his art trade. He is known for his commercial work with various brands including Airloom, Yogi Sip, Warner Music Africa, Sony Music, Universal Music, the Charlotte Maxeke Institution, Markham, Airloom, the Mandela Legacy, and Rocking the Daisies. He has learned from each and every one of these encounters, and they have all helped shape his creative experience and of course his business acumen.. 

However through this exhibition the public will for the first time get to interact with the artist and his work in a gallery set up.

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