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Colourful Nhlapo is master of his art

kaleidoscope: Visual artist Senzo Nhlapo plays with colours to produce exhilarating paintings and artworks PHOTO: SUPPLIED
kaleidoscope: Visual artist Senzo Nhlapo plays with colours to produce exhilarating paintings and artworks PHOTO: SUPPLIED

There is something striking about the recent artworks of visual artist Senzo Nhlapo. It's not the approach and the artist's creativity, but the blend of colours that he plays with.

When he started more than 13 years ago, his focus was on depicting township and urban life through oil on canvas, sculpture and print-making. His technique advanced when he incorporated video and graphic design.

His latest art, which he defines as African Pop Art, is a kaleidoscope of colours offset with cubism of the works of famous artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.

Born in 1979 in Mofolo, Soweto, his work orbits between art, design, architecture and poetry.

"I'm fascinated by colour, and my works have a lot of bright colours to bring life to them. The technique started a long time ago while I was studying in Switzerland," he says.

He says although inspiration for his latest creations comes from African masks, he has also been influenced by famous artists such as Pablo Picasso.

His recent artworks spot colourful and larger-than-life eyes and long noses usually seen on African masks.

His colourful art works can be seen around Soweto. Nhlapo normally works from his home studio, but when he is short on inspiration he does murals for clients.

"Working on these murals attracts international media, and through this still art we inspire young people and the community," he says.

He celebrates South African cultural diversity by creating digital prints that are later incorporated into other media such as video to form installations.

This intricate relationship is illustrated through Nhlapo's technique of combining different photographs and weaving these together to create a new reality.

"The works focus on the enlargement that creates a new multicultural South Africa, where people of different cultures, lifestyles, traditions, habits, cuisine and music live together."

Nhlapo prefers to operate independently because he doesn't want to lose his artistic creative freedom.

"As an artist, you want a freedom to be able to produce the artworks the way you feel.

"This help you to grow as an artist, [and] not to do what pleases other people."

Nhlapo studied fine art at the Funda Arts Centre in Soweto and did a degree in arts in Switzerland. He completed several postgraduate courses at Artists Proof Studio in South Africa, Academy of Art in Germany and the Ecole Supreme Des Beaux Art in France.


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