2019 Ambassadors

Nkhesani Rihlampfu – South Africa

2019 Absa L’Atelier Ambassador: Winning artist in Group A

Portfolio statement

Nkhensani Rihlampfu introduces us to his universe of woven realities; a space in which actuality is entwined with the idealistic and notional ideas birthed by our society. Nkhensani aims to expose the manipulation of communication through gesture and assumption. By interacting with Nkhensani’s fantastical figures we are immersed in a reality founded on our perception of the world. The figures coax us to the belief of movement and mass, where there is none. We “feel” the pressure and the weight of non-existent objects. The work exists in the overlapping margin between truth and ideology; it is in this space that we discover our identity and acknowledge the importance of communication. We are presented with familiar structures and recognisable characteristics, but never definitive facts. This orchestration by Nkhensani encourages us to search for a new path to develop sturdy foundations for our communal evolution.

Winifrid Luena – Tanzania

2019 Absa L’Atelier Ambassador: Winning artist in Group B

Portfolio statement

The work is study of individuality, over individualism. There is a sense in the world at times that being an individual is a collective process. That is it is part of larger argument intended to bring some kind of human liberation, that it is an act of authority and power over the self. This is why I divide the two terms, individualism and individuality. If individualism is a process, then individuality is a state. It is a space occupied but that which is not adopted or accepted by whatever the prevailing thoughts, attitudes, traditions, or even aesthetics of any given place. In a moment of difference, the ownership of this space is what the individual exudes as his contrast to what surrounds him can be taken as its own kind of attention. The harmony of that moment in and among the discord it creates is what fascinates. Difference is separation, difference is struggle, yet difference is also truth. It reveals the implausibility, impracticality and impossibility of thinking the same.

Raji Bamidele – Nigeria

2019 Absa L’Atelier Ambassador: Winning artist in Group C

Portfolio statement

My experiences as a young man has been moulded to form the bedrock of my inspiration. These are gleaned from my immediate environment and personal experiences. The multidisciplinary approach to my work, which weaves differing materials and methods belonging both to contemporary and modern art forms, calling into question the existence of time and being. Creating an increasingly dark panels embedded with charred coal layers and Gold leaf, sometimes in the form of symbols and intricate patterns. I regard these dark canvases to be the essence which provokes a philosophical commentary through material that addresses the infinite and the finite, immortality and mortality, the microcosm and macrocosm, in addition to the socio-political and historical preconceptions surrounding ‘blackness’ and its universal implications. My works examines the everyday innermost activities of mankind, exploring personal and political narratives, focusing mostly on the resilience of the human spirit.

Phoka Nyokong – South Africa

2019 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner

Portfolio statement

The body of work that forms this portfolio is a series of photographic works. The main preoccupation of the work is found in the themes of gender(mis)identity, collective social anxiety and the temporality of the human material experience. The work does this by imagining the human as a being whose social identity can’t be pinned down to mere rigid gender associations. A being whose socialized nature means that they may only negotiate even their most intimate emotions, particularly their fears, in the sociable structures within which they are born and bred. But also, through the creation of an otherworldly aesthetical figure, to re-imagine the human’s connection to a cosmic existence while still in the bodily experience. These imaginative thoughts about the nature of mankind are informed by a recognition of and struggle to grapple with the ever-impending realities of life’s transitory nature. The work uses the medium of studio photography to create a performative narrative.