Art meets champagne at the Absa Champagne festival

Zwelethu Machepha's piece
Image: Supplied

African art will be in focus at this year's Absa Champagne Festival.

The annual festival is one of the most popular events on the calendar for lovers of bubbles. An often sold-out affair, it is a one of a kind event in that it allows bubbly enthusiasts an opportunity to taste only French champagne from some of the country's premium houses.

This year, in celebration of the Nelson Mandela centenary, the popular event will also see African art taking centre stage, allowing some exciting and upcoming designers to showcase to some of the country's elite. But in a nod to making art collection (often deemed to be reserved for the rich) more accessible, the festival will also host a silent auction, with pieces starting at more accessible pricing.

To give you a taste of what will be on offer, below are four exciting artists who will be featured at the festival:

Zwelethu Machepha

From being a salesperson to pursuing an acting career for seven years, Zwelethu Machepha's artistic journey has had various detours.

His multifaceted background is reflected in his art and artistic process.

"If you could look at my body of work it's varied, [using] different languages in the medium itself, ranging from charcoals to watercolours, to pen work which is a bit more delicate, to embroidery and recently some furniture.

"As a visual practitioner, you can't be one dimensional."

He is reluctant to describe his own art, as he does not want to be the one narrating the story to the audience. He nonetheless states that art's transformational abilities are important for both the artist and the audience.

Image: Supplied

"In different stages of my life it has helped me transform my level of thinking. I suppose for me it has become the biggest part of my life because it has been a healing tool in my personal life."

Shenaz Mohamed

Shenaz Mohamed is not only an artist, but is completing her MFA (master's in fine art) while working as an assistant curator at Fried Contemporary Art Gallery. The Pretoria-based artist uses hand-cut paper, photographs and even printmaking processes to create art of contrasting mediums.

She describes her work as a negotiation of her identity and an interrogation of her daily practice as a Muslim woman, using these to relate her experiences back into art objects.

"[Art] gives a different perspective on the way we live our lives. It's a different view of things. It gives us more depth in how we live and the way we see things and how we treat other people and interact with the world.

"So for me, the visual aspect is so important because it's just a new way of thinking."

Patrick Seruwu

Patrick Seruwu has been a full-time artist for only two years and yet three of his artworks have been chosen for the auction, an honour he still finds incredible.

Seruwu is a contemporary, realistic painter and his work focuses on violence against women, exploring ways in which victims deal with the trauma of being subjected to abuse.

Patrick Seruwu
Image: Supplied

"My art exposes the emotions of people out there who can't express themselves. By doing that I try to bring out emotions [in] the images, so that everyone can see what's happening to the world at large."

He also pays homage to African culture, often drawing inspiration from his childhood, painting flashbacks of growing up as an only boy in a household full of girls and a single mother.

Pat Sithole

As Pat Sithole states himself, being an artist is not only a talent he was born with, but also part of his family's culture. He is the nephew of renowned sculptor, the late Lucas Sithole, who inspired him to follow a career in the arts.

"In fact, I can say it's a Sitholes' tradition because even the other uncles were artists although they were not recognised."

His work takes inspiration from life in the township, depicting its daily experiences.

Pat Sithole
Image: Supplied

In fact, this inspiration is not only seen in the subjects of his artwork, but also his choice of materials. He uses acrylic on canvas, pastels, newspaper and (other) objects to create his artworks.

Sithole explains that art is another form of storytelling which is why the medium and its process are important.

"We express our emotions through paintings rather than writing - the colours, the structure, everything - I think it's all a part of life."

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