Burning passion leads to smoking-hot art

Art on a canvas had for years been restricted to painting, photography and drawing but artists are evolving and creating masterpieces and new art forms, writes Boitumelo Kgobotlo.


Self-taught artist Anathi "Elpee" Nkanyuza buys a pack of candles a month and uses the smoke from the flame to create his masterpieces.

His skill requires holding the canvas horizontally, while the candle is held vertically and burns to create a portrait.

Nkanyuza, 24, from the small town of Tsomo in the Eastern Cape, says he fell in love with candles and canvases when he realised that studying fine arts did not include this "exciting experience".

Not a fine arts student himself, the civil engineering dropout started drawing as a young boy and believed he was the best artist in his class at Kwasa English Medium School.

He says his passion won him second place at the school's competition in 2009. He also reached the second round on SA's Got Talent in 2017.

While at Lovedale TVET College in King Williams Town, he was handpicked to participate in the group exhibition organised by the school.

But Nkanyuza says it was only through luck that his work was chosen because "the curator wanted people who have history in studying fine arts and I was self taught".

"That experience inspired me to keep doing better. It made me realise that I can challenge those who actually studied art at a university. I knew that if I pushed harder and met the right people I would finally make something out of my talent," he says.

He started candle smoke art in 2015.

"I was getting bored from traditional drawing and painting, I wanted something different; something that would make me stand out from everyone else," the artist says.

"I came across smoke art and did more research . I realised other people were also doing it," he says.

Nkanyuza also uses cardboard boxes as his canvas to explore this unique art form.

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