Daniel Stompie Selibe at Berman Contemporary
Daniel Stompie Selibe, The Long Road, 2017. Mixed medium on Fabriano, 76 x 112cm. Courtesy of the artist & Berman Contemporary.
Perhaps most noted for his work within music and the visual arts, Daniel Stompie Selibe – more commonly known as “Stompie” – has also worked extensively with outreach programmes across South Africa.
Having trained in art therapy at the Art Therapy Centre in Johannesburg in 2001, Selibe has over a decade of experience, and is equipped with the correct tools to work with survivors of abuse, rape and those living with HIV / AIDs. Selibe also works with teenagers who share both his talent and passion for the arts, encouraging South African youth to express who they are through creativity.
This extraordinary ability to communicate with teenagers, and those in need of healing, can be put down, perhaps, to Selibe’s philosophy of using both music and the visual arts to explore ‘textures’ within society – where ‘textures’ can be loosely translated to ‘layers of our existence’. Selibe’s artistic processes and artworks are invitations to explore the known and the unknown, asking questions such as ‘who are we?’, ‘who are we to each other?’, and ‘how did we become who we are?’ – undoubtedly, questions that subsist within his Healing Through Art workshops.
Daniel Stompie Selibe, Meditation, 2017. Mixed Media on Fabriano, 760 x 1100mm. Courtesy of the artist & Berman Contemporary.
While exploring ‘textures’ within society through music and art, Selibe also uses his practice to explore ‘texture’ as it exists in sound, space, colour and rhythm – all impacting on how he communicates with those around him. A significant question of ‘texture’ in Selibe’s work, is his concern with ‘how the fingerprints of history have left their mark upon us, just as we have left our fingerprints upon history’.
“As people, we are an interplay of forces, a flowing river, a zig-zag between who we are individually, and how the world impacts and shapes us and our environments. The world is as the shoreline – shaping much of our experience, and each of us is like the river – full of our unique energy, feelings, desires, secrets, pains and actions. Over time, we shape and re-shape each other by our actions.”
This is a philosophy that can be seen in his mixed-media paintings, where Selibe has visibly left traces of his shaping and re-shaping of the artwork – at once a vibrant expression of colour, and a reminder to us all that we, too, are a work-in-progress, always a flowing river.
Daniel Stompie Selibe, The love I list / Deep tech, 2017. Mixed Medium on Fabriano. Courtesy of the artist & Berman Contemporary.
This can most notably be seen in The Love I Lost / Deep Tech, where the Fabriano stretches across almost two metres, and demands the viewer’s attention with its brilliant hues of turquoise. The figure-like shapes are surrounded by expressive dark lines, flowing through and around, and finding both conception and cessation in a heaving, dark lump between the figures.
It speaks of human presence, and how this presence affects the environment – socially, politically, culturally, and historically. The Love I Lost / Deep Tech is also an exploration of layers – what lies on the surface, and below the surface – and the ripples and tensions between the two. Its very title alludes to this same relationship between visual art and music, and how Selibe uses the two to explore ‘textures’ within society.
Daniel Stompie Selibe, Summer frost, 2017. Mixed Media on Fabriano, 760 x 1120mm. Courtesy of the artist & Berman Contemporary.
Another artwork that captures these ‘textures’ is The Long Road. Playing with contrasting primary colours – yellow and blue – figure-like shapes also exist in this work, almost resisting the expressive dark lines that surround them as they lean back, towards the end of the frame. Perhaps the expressive, dark, swirling lines speak of our unique human energy – our emotions, and desires, our secrets, pains and actions – pulling us forward along the long road ahead.
Selibe’s work articulates a remarkable ability to understand the many different aspects of human life, and proves how music and the visual arts are great tools for human expression. To the very core, his work communicates his exploration of ‘textures’ in sound, space, colour, rhythm and life, and demonstrates how his very understanding of ‘textures’ – on all their surfaces – may be in aid of his outreach programmes – those he heals through art.
Ellen Agnew is a writer on ART AFRICA’s editorial team.