10 Questions with Sthembiso Zwane
Posted on 8 December 2022
Sthembiso Zwane spent his childhood riding alongside his grandfather as he taxied passengers around. During these rides, he became acquainted with and fascinated by the myriad of elderly riders.
The wrinkles and texture of their skin drew his attention and thus have become a recurring theme in his artworks. Finely textured carvings recreate a lifelike texture in his prints giving an illusion of movement.
He is one of our selected 10 Art.co.za Watch List artists to follow in 2023. The new annual list of the most on-the-rise artists in South Africa features the artists across various media and subject matter who are gained momentum in the past year and who are reaching new heights in their art careers.
If not art, what would you do?
I can't actually see myself doing anything beside art. I started taking art seriously as a career since high school and I've never seen myself as a 9-5 person. Also I feel that my identity is inherently creative.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I am inspired by everyday life and my surroundings. The people featured in my artworks are people that you see everyday around me. I also love to get into nature and go hiking. It refreshes my mind and while I'm hiking, within those quiet times, I get some of my best inspiration. I also get energised and inspired when I meet with other creatives .
What's your secret obsession?
I am currently obsessed with texture, both the feel and look of it. Especially the texture of skin and wrinkles. It might not be so secret because it has largely become a focus in my current artworks.
Do you have a creative muse?
My current creative muse is a reflective one. My grandfather was a taxi driver and during my rides with him after school, I got to know and became fascinated by the myriad of elderly riders that passed through the taxi. The texture of their skin and their wrinkles have actually become a recurring theme in my artworks.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven't yet?
I would love to explore sculpture. During my first year of art school, I used to create small sculptures using chalk, but I haven't had the chance to explore sculpture on a bigger scale. I think the medium I would like to explore the most would be wood.
Favorite time of the day?
I'm a night owl, I actually do the most of my work at night. It's quiet and peaceful, plus I'm normally very energetic.
What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can't live without in your studio?
I can't live without my linocut scalpel. It's what I use to make my engravings to recreate the texture of skin.
Favourite or most inspirational place in South Africa?
My favourite place has to be Durban. I got the chance to go to NdweNdwe and that place is simply beautiful. There are lots of mountains and in the morning, the view over the mountains makes you feel like the clouds are close enough to touch.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating an artwork?
Actually as I create my artworks, I tend to fall in love with them. Sometimes that makes it very difficult for me to finish the artwork and I like to take my time with them to draw out the process. The longest time it has taken me to finish a particular artwork has was seven years and it was an experience to finally complete it.
What's the best creative advice you've ever received?
"Do art for love, not for money and work hard." I don't actually remember who said that but it resonates with me. After all, doing art for money means you end up creating mass-production art and while everyone will have your artworks, it won't be as meaningful because in the end, that just equals numbers. Doing art for love does not mean you fall into the starving artist category, sometimes when you don't chase the wealth, it comes to you and you're already fulfilled by your art.
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