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South African Artists: Creators of Intriguing Fine Art Pieces

Updated on June 15, 2019
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Grace has a degree in Social Sciences. She loves collecting art pieces and is amazed by how talented artists are.

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South Africa has a lot of talented artists, and fine art is one of the most common forms of art in the country. Fine art includes, painting, drawing, sculpture and printmaking. Some artists use fine art to express individual thoughts, emotions, beliefs and experiences. While, others on the other hand, use it to reflect on the political and socio-economic circumstances of the country. Fine art is used to convey messages without even saying a word. Various art pieces are quite clear, in terms of the type of message the artist initially intended on communicating. Whilst, some art pieces require more interpretation and can have various impacts and meanings to different individuals. There are a number of art pieces that focus on the imbalances of the past. These pieces intend to elaborate on the oppressive nature of the apartheid era and the obstacles the previously disadvantaged group had to face each day. Some artists are more interested in highlighting the living conditions of South Africans and their daily challenges. However, there are also artists who embrace happy moments, for instance, by painting colourful visuals on street walls. This article contains some art work by various South African artists.

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Ennock Mlangeni believes that "there is no right way to do art. The only wrong is not trying, not doing". He uses coffee as his medium. He says "coffee has allowed him to be more creative with his work". "Art to me is everything, it is my life, it is who I am, it is something that defines me", said Ennock Mlangeni.

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"Talk less, work more, and patiently await your turn. Do not tell people what you can do, show them", said Dbongz-One. He says he has been painting for ten years.

Challenges faced by visual artists in South Africa

Unfortunately, a lot of visual artists in South Africa do not receive the kind of recognition and rewards they deserve. Fine art does not receive as much attention as other forms of art such as acting and singing. Even on social media, you will rarely see fine art trending. Most visual artists continuously create fine art pieces because they are gifted and passionate about art. However, in reality passion alone is not enough. Like any other human being, visual artists have families to feed and responsibilities to attend to. There is a certain level of inequality when it comes to the value of art pieces. There are some artists who manage to sell their work at high and/or reasonable costs, which is good for them. However, there are also some artists who find themselves in positions where they are forced by circumstances to sell their work at extremely low prices, which could, to some extent be discouraging. There is some level of inconsistency in sales, for some months an artist can manage to sell a couple of art work, and sell absolutely none for some months. This can be extremely discouraging for students determined and passionate about fine art, when they become aware of how extremely challenging it can be to make a living out of fine art in South Africa.

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Dr Esther Mahlangu was born in 1935. She is famous for her large-scale Ndebele paintings, aimed at embracing the Ndebele culture. Dr Esther Mahlangu is interested in giving young people the opportunity and platform to learn about the Ndebele culture, to promote sustainability. She believes that culture should be passed on from one generation to another, and live on forever.

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Valuing fine art

All South Africans should play a role in ensuring that fine art receives the respect and recognition it is worth. The education department should continuously work towards ensuring that all schools have the necessary resources needed for learners to learn about fine art practically. It is imperative to emphasize that not all learners are good at Mathematics and Science, not all learners are good at Accounting and Business studies. There should also be a fair amount of bursaries annually, to be allocated to fine art students who plan to further their studies and sharpen their skills through higher education institutions. However, it should not end there. The government needs to work together with relevant stakeholders to develop strategies, aimed at assisting artists in fine art make reasonable income from their work.

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© 2019 Grace

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