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Featured artist: Kgaugelo Rakgwale

Kgaugelo Rakgwale. ©Kgaugelo Rakgwale

It is not always simple to separate the artist’s statement from the artist whose work doesn’t appear to manifest what it claims to be manifesting. A nod to ‘contemporary discourse’ seems to be the norm while discussing art. It is sometimes overlooked that contemporary discourse is a living and breathing entity, just as art itself. It grows, it changes, old truths become obsolete, or stay in the era where they emerged, with new thought experiments and theories being developed and tested all the time.

Meanwhile artists make their art, and some of it speaks to you directly - heart to heart, if not always mind to mind.

Faded, 2017. ©Kgaugelo Rakgwale

That is what I felt while looking at Kgaugelo Rakgwale’s photographs and her moving image work. To me, as a blessed spectator rewarded by purity of impulse and movement, it invoked ancient plays, and Christian mysteries. Kgaugelo’s work has a character of its own, making it that much more intriguing and warm. The energy and authenticity didn’t seem to require any extra explanation, and the ever-present artist’s statement didn’t ruin the feeling:

“My name is Kgaugelo Rakgwale. I am a Johannesburg-based self-taught photo-artist with an above average fervor for photography and film. I revere black and white photography, a medium I fell in love with when I was around 6/7, I just didn’t know it yet. My photographic perspective is hugely influenced by the experience of occupying not so great spaces, a creative objective enthused by the urge to explore the frustration that results from attempting to find stillness in spaces that don't foster this state. I believe that digital content is one of the most easily accessed forms of escapism, making it an incredibly influential and possibly life-changing form of media. This notion leads me to imagine the prospect of a positively impacted society, should this tool be used well. That is where I believe I can contribute actively, by creating empowering content, presented in the most authentic and current context conceivable.”

Return to humanity while being distant from each other, or retaining humanity while being distant from each other is required from us by our interesting times. It somehow resonates with Kgaugelo Rakgwale's piece that was made in 2017. A complex mixture of archetypal religious imagery and a simple manifestation of delight and incredulity in front of mysteries of existence.

Kgaugelo studies fashion at Lisof in Pretoria.

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