Addiction burns into pieces of art

Budding artist Anathi Elpee Nkanyuza wants to revive one of the oldest art techniques called smoke art.

Art critics have defined the technique as a genre with an acquired taste. Nkanyuza, from Tsomo in the Eastern Cape, is among a few known local artists who want to keep the technique alive.

The 22-year-old is exhibiting his smoke paintings at South African State Theatre as part of the Arts and Culture incubator programme until Sunday next week. His exhibition is titled Artdiction.

Smoke art looks simple, but it is one of the most complicated ways of doing art. It requires cheap materials such as candles, a paraffin lamp and lots of patience.

The process to make an art piece includes applying fire and smoke on paper or cardboard to give a black and white colour.

"The exhibition feature a series of self-portraits which depict my love for art, how it negatively and positively impacts my life," says Nkanyuza.

Nkanyuza, who focuses on the theme of cancer, started working on the smoke technique in 2016 when he moved to Pretoria. He believes that cancer is dangerous and black people are still not taking it seriously. He says as he learned more about cancer, he decided to add a pink element to his black and white works.

"I decided to play a role as an artist in the community to educating people about cancer,' says Nkanyuza.

"I am just saying, if you do not have it now it does not mean you won't get it later. People need to be aware of it."

Nkanyuza says he decided to call his exhibition Addiction because of the passion he has for art and the belief that he is addicted to art.

"I think of the great feeling I have when I am doing art. I also look at the negative things about it. Sometimes I over focus on it, neglecting other duties," he says.

Like most visual artists, he fell in love with drawing from a young age until his teachers noticed his unique skill.

He says he never thought that he would take art as a career until he moved to Pretoria to study engineering but ended up being drawn deeper into art.

"I attended a lot of art events and the interest of art was revived. I paused my engineering course to focus on it."