August House is flat in Johannesburg CBD that houses a significant number of visual artists and sculptors. A few times a year the artists and the management of August House open their studios to the public. The public is afforded a chance to meet the artists they follow and admire, discover new artists and buy some art works. The whole affair is quite relaxing because as you navigate 4 floors of different yet beautiful art you are soothed by music and poetry performed on the corridors of different floors. There are also food and drink stands to cater to the hungry and thirsty. The artists are very welcoming and are always happy to answer questions and have a chat with you about the art industry.
Artists are inspired by different things; sometimes they are inspired by the beauty and ugliness around them, the political climate, music and economic migration. Artists like Sanusi Olatunji and Pro Thusi play their part in saving the environment by using waste materials in their work. Sanusi Olatunji a collage artist uses old magazines, newspapers and fabric off cuts to create his work. Pro Thusi uses plastics, bottle tops and pieces of cans in creating beautiful portraits. Cromwell Ngobeni’s work is largely focused on the images of children playing, working through hardships that they should not be going through at such young ages. In some of his latest work, Cromwell tackles the spill over effects of Xenophobia to the young children. How children learn from their parents to hate African immigrants and their children. This drew my attention to a story that broke out on the news how some South African school children severely assaulted a foreign classmate.
What caught my attention in Malose Pete’s art is how he places a cow in the middle of Joburg CBD 5pm traffic. If you have been at Bree taxi rank or MTN taxi rank around that time then you know how congested the roads are.Not any cow but a green cow. When I probed him about this he explained that when in Joburg CBD he feels lost like he doesn’t not belong there so to make whatever task that brought him there bearable he imagines himself in an open green field with cows. Malose’s work also serves as commentary on the political climate of the country. In one of his artworks he draws connections between the #FeesMustFall movement, the Afrophobia attacks, the plight of farm laborers and miners. The poor and less advantaged fight each other for the scraps and crumbs of resources left by the elite and the government, while those in power are unaffected by the unrests and continue with their lives.
These open studios that August House facilitates are one of the best ways to learn about South African/ African art, the artists and where the art industry as a whole is headed to. If art is your thing then you should definitely check August House’s Open Studio soon. The next one is in March 2020.