Writing Art History Since 2002

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‘To Children’ exhibition left the audience swept away by the enchanting scenery. Nosipho Motsamai speaks to us about the exhibition and what we can expect next from her.

© Nosipho Motsamai

Hailing all the way from Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Nosipho Motsamai is a Johannesburg-based artist and designer who uses art to study their inner selves, self-expression and gender norms. She continues to use this principle to develop a highly simplified artwork that speaks to a visual dialogue between the past and the present. Her recent solo exhibition, ‘To Children’ at Constitution Hill, unpacks childhood traumas and how it plays a significant role in our development to adulthood. 

“On a broader scale, ‘To Children’ exhibition refers to the transcendence of self, moving past experienced traumas and mostly navigating healing parts of yourself inner child. I certainly don’t think we fully cross over from childhood to adulthood without having to deal with our inner child. This is my chosen medium of expression,” Motsamai adds. The series brought critical issues to the forefront. Often, people shy away from facing the demons that haunt them from their past for several reasons. Of course, no one wants to dwell on their buried past, but in these works, Nosipho identifies three themes: remembrance, acknowledgement and encouragement. 

Putting together the exhibition proved to be a form of creative catharsis, having herself struggled with childhood trauma, creating a space with her art igniting a much-needed conversation. Out of all her artwork, the award-winning creative said she’s intensely fond of the photograph with an ear covered in flowers. When asked why exactly that one, Nosipho replied that there’s a note in that artwork that says, “there was never a reason enough for you to put your shoe in my ear”. I couldn’t help but gasp at the deepness of it! “The message speaks to us about how there is never enough of a reason to put your child through traumatic experiences and also sends a message to a child that whatever happened wasn’t your fault,” said Nosipho.

© Nosipho Motsamai

When Aristotle said, “the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance,” – it’s safe to say Motsamai’s art is an outlet for exploring her experiences and providing a safe space for other people to relate well enough to reflect on their own shadows and what it means to truly live. Motsamai has a distinct way of forming a relationship with her subjects. She highlights the importance of making her subjects not feel like they are just mere subjects or muses’ when she engages in her work, capturing moments. “I love people. They’re my kryptonite, my daily motivation. Everything is people first, honestly,” the multitalented said. 

There is so much to look forward to from Motsamai. “I want to tell more stories. As I have found, in the absence of trauma there’s always that void that needs to be filled. Henceforth I want to put out more work. Educate and heal. That’s my ultimate goal.”

For more information on Nosipho Motsamai, follow her Instagram or Twitter.

Thubelihle Chance Ntombela is a writer based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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