Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC)
18.02.22 - 20.02.22
Luyanda Zindela’s work chiefly explores the intimate and the familiar of Black life through hand drawn portraiture done primarily on pine board. The work takes inspiration from his personal life and is informed by the philosopher Jeanette Kennett’s sentiment of ‘friendship as mark making’, a collaborative process of friendship and intimacy where we leave the marks of love, wisdom, wit, and care on one another. Zindela explores ‘mark making’ by creating portraits of his friends and family in what are seemingly ordinary moments where the viewer, the subject, and Zindela himself can look on for much longer than the moment lasts.
In the labour intensive process of drawing each portrait, Zindela reflects on the mark his subject has made on him. This is then mirrored in the titling of each piece, where the portrait takes its title from an excerpt of a conversation had at the time of the making of the portrait image. Zindela began this ongoing portraiture series in 2020 as a practice of deep reflection during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
This latest collection of work for the Investec Cape Town Art Fair SOLO Booth demonstrates a texture of transition, especially in his practice and the content of his work and personal life. In addition, Zindela transitioned to Cape Town in 2021 and was met with all the complexities and rewards of meeting new people and a new working space. His portraits depict both these new and established friendships. The familiarity of our loved ones remind us of who we are, and the excitement and discernment of new people asks us new questions of ourselves. For example, “Asaaaaaaaah!!!”; (Smirks) “Akunyanzelekanga ungxole xa ubulisa Zindela” (you don’t have to be so loud when you greet Zindela) is derived from a conversation and moment many years ago with a loving touch, but takes on new meaning as Zindela finds himself being received by new people in a new place. These works demonstrate the elasticity of memory, where conversations from years ago take on significant new meaning and conversations from just weeks ago no longer hold the same context.
Zindela’s work challenges the notion of portraiture being solely static, only capturing ‘a moment in time’. Because his works are created from a lived experience of each subject, the works reflect the ongoing-ness of knowing and seeing the people in our lives. Zindela’s primary method of cross hatching lends itself to the mark making process as each line and stroke allow Zindela to imbue his memory into the portrait. It is deeply intuitive and reflective, representing Black communion, and the humanity it continues to offer to Black people. Zindela emphasises through his work that our friendships, our communions, are the places where we create our sense of self which is regularly denied and distorted through anti Black lenses.
Artwork that portrays and defines ‘Black life’ has always been heavily policed both by white structures of power and Black artists themselves. For Zindela, it is important to explore what he deems as the “more” that lies outside of rigid definitions of Blackness that begin with violence and end with lacking. The “more” space is one that continually asks for imagination, for stillness, for pause. The “more” rejects lenses that view Blackness through spectacle and homogeneity, but doesn’t negate the legitimate and lived realities of violence and marginalisation. Zindela’s work invites us into familiar space that does not ask Black people the question “can you believe this?” ; many Black people do not have to go far to understand the depths and persistence of violences (sexism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty) informed by white supremacy. Rather, his work explores the possibility of radical love and the ongoing, everyday practice of it.
Zindela’s work is able to have conversations with inspirations like Billie Zangewa and Tina Campt as there are consistent and curious through lines about the longevity of Black life - how do we preserve ourselves, how do we balance our firmness with graciousness, and how do we remain honest about where we come from and where we’d like to go? Overall, Zindela’s work asks us to find some of our answers in the everyday, with our trusted people.
Text by Kim Reynolds