The Body In The World Walkabout | Artist Q&A

Origin Art is proud to present the work of two exciting emerging talents at its current pop-up space in the Trumpet at Keyes Art Mile in Rosebank, Johannesburg.  

Frans Moshimanyana Thoka was born in 1997 in Polokwane, Limpopo Province, South Africa, and obtained a BA in Visual Art from the University of Johannesburg. His work focuses to a large extent on the human condition and what it is to be ethical and humane towards others. His experience of hardship and trauma in his own life manifests itself in his work. His signature use of Basotho and prison blankets as material in his work, augmented by different materials and approaches to mark-making, is an indication of his awareness of the ‘bare necessities’ used by the marginalised for shelter and warmth, but also indicates his use of the blanket as a symbolic surface on which his landscape and figuration plays out, and which provides his work with a contextual bedrock. 

Fathema Bemath is a mother, entrepreneur, and sculptor, originally from Lenasia outside Johannesburg. Brought up in a strict Muslim environment, art was not a popular or easily understood pursuit in her community. Bemath’s studies in dental technology led to independence and a successful business but left little time for her love of art to turn into a career. But she continued to experiment in pottery, design and drawing, steadily working with materials and on her technique. Eventually a creative collaboration with the late Benon Lutaaya provided Bemath with a platform to shape her artistic practice as a sculptor. Her work currently reflects not only her own struggle to realise her artistic dreams, but also the difficult process of self-realisation which women of colour in patriarchal societies go through in order to achieve success in their chosen field. 

The current body of work by these two artists on show at Origin reflects the different constraints each have had to work against and overcome in their practice as artists. They have in common a wish to address and comment on these constraints placed on the black and female body, in ways that, while politically charged, are nonetheless aesthetic in nature rather than dogmatic or doctrinal. 

One aspect both artists also have in common is their choices of unusual materials to realise their vision. Bemath uses uncommon sculptural materials like bark chip and resin to dramatically illustrate human forms under erasure and in emergence. Her partial busts, their fingers digging into their own ‘skin’ is a way of expressing the pain and trauma of the female figures at the heart of her work in a way that remains full of pathos. By contrast, the muted tones of Thoka’s landscapes, shadowy and ambiguous figures lying – perhaps dead, perhaps asleep – in the foreground, is set against other large, triumphal paintings in which the ubiquitous blanket material becomes celebratory. 

Both artists have only original, unique works on offer on the show, which are selling fast. Please contact us for a private viewing and walkthrough of the exhibition. 

The catalogue for the show is available HERE.

There will be a full walkabout of the exhibition with curators Oliver Antonie and James Sey, plus a Q&A with the artists, at 11am on Saturday 22nd October.