An exploration into the mind of Winston Thekiso
Winston Mojalefa Thekiso is currently based in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. He was born and raised in Evaton, Gauteng, graduating with a diploma in Graphic Design at Technikon Witwatersrand in 2000. Thekiso enjoys utilising the ballpoint medium. According to The Artist’s Press, ‘his work quietly and calmly tracks the social, political and economic concerns of living in South Africa.
A Moment in Time, 2018. ©Winston Thekiso
Daniel Hewson: As an artist what for you is art’s function in society?
Winston Thekiso: Art’s function is to tell a message. To convey a message. To make society think. To see the creativity. A creative expression where people would be able to see themselves in everyday life. What people are seeing around them and how people are presenting their creativity because a lot happens in life and some of it gets captured in news and in tv but in visual art, it takes a certain skill in creativity.
Amandla, 2019. ©Winston Thekiso
A lot of the visual reference moves towards the cubistic. The abstracted way of seeing was very inspired by what was happening in Africa. I don’t think Picasso would have been able to generate that kind of technique without having the influence that he had from Africa. So, it is a very interesting crossover or intersection. What are you planning to name your exhibition?
I thought of Timeless Moments because of the relationship that we have with time. A lot of what we do is based on time. We are quite worried about time, especially the past. Most people live in the past and they carry it through each and every moment of the present and it is quite a disturbing thing for me because you don’t get to appreciate every moment as being new. We look into today with the eyes of yesterday. If anything happens today that is similar to what happened in the past then we apply the knowledge of the past. We don’t really get to see it for what it is. So most of my work is based on my experiences and what other people experience. We are pre-programmed by the past. What we learn in the past we apply without giving each and every case its merit. This is new. This has never happened. How do I act now? Creativity comes from there. Creativity doesn’t come from applying. It’s not always about applying what you know but it is also learning from every new experience. We usually apply but we don’t learn from new experiences. We want to know how we deal with this. Let me think of a new way to deal with a new situation. Every new moment. Each and every new piece. It’s a new piece that gets to be treated differently from the previous one. All my pieces I try to improve in the same language. I’m improving my language. I’ve now come to the point where I say this is my language. Now I must talk. I must improve it. That’s why it is very difficult to create a new piece because it needs a new perspective. So that all of the pieces might have one meaning or similar meanings tied to one topic but it will not be the same. That’s why I don’t have landscapes or portraits – it’s just a mixture. I’m trying to deal with time.
Amandla, 2019. ©Winston Thekiso
Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
What does abstract art serve? What does it aim to achieve? In your mind?
For me, I think abstract art, it covers a lot of bases in the sense that it allows thoughts to be presented in a style that is not fixed. That is not one thing. It is not a simple kind of sum or calculation. It’s very much about gaining data and reconceptualizing it and presenting it in a new form. I think it is interesting because it uses both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. You need a notion of analytical thought within an abstract conception. I think there is a lovely dialectic of abstraction and figuration within some of your prints that depict portraits that have been abstracted almost like tussles of a string constructed over a face so there’s a nice dialectic at play there. Not to say that figuration or abstraction is better than the other. There’s also a linkage to sound, harmonizing and music within abstract art more so than figurative art. So, the way that you read music from notes and from 4 lines and you have treble clefs and bass clefs. I think there is that integration at play too, which I don’t always pick up in figurative art. Those things interest me about abstraction and the fact that there is so much at play within an abstract piece.
Silence, 2019. ©Winston Thekiso
Daniel Hewson is a curator, writer and artist from Cape Town, South Africa. He graduated from Rhodes University in 2011.