South African Artists On Life After 22

Some of South Africa's biggest art names are showing their support for the next generation.


A new exhibition in Johannesburg sees some of South Africa's most celebrated artists come together to raise funds, and show their support, for the next generation of the country's creative talent. The exhibition, called Letters To My 22-Year-Old-Self currently on show at the Absa Gallery, gathers artworks donated by big names like Mikael Subotzky, Lady Skollie, Colbert Mashile, Diane Victor and Moffatt Takadiwa alongside letters written by themselves, and others, that each offer advice to their 22-year-old selves. 

Speaking to House and Leisure, curator of the exhibition Banele Khoza, who also donated some work from his recent collaboration with photographer Zanele Muholi, explained that his dream to start a foundation that would offer support for art students who are struggling to afford their studies began when he was 22, and struggling to pay for his own studies. 

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'When I was 17 and doing my first year at the London International School of Fashion (Lisof) the only thing I could pay for at the time was my fees, and so I know what it's like to be hungry in class, which really affected my concentration,' Banele says. 'The mind would not be present, and this caused serious problems for me while I was studying, problems I hope other students never have to face.'

The overwhelming consensus from the artist's involved is resoundingly a message to believe your value, and in the artistic process, Banele says. 

'I think a lot of artists right now are saying that you should trust in yourself, which is important for me. A lot of us have ideas, but a lot of it doesn’t happen because of doubt. That's why I’m hoping a lot of young people come through and get encouragement from the advice, and I hope we can help as many students as we can with the funds we raise. Other companies have responded with supplies since the news got out about the exhibition, so I hope more companies and artists come on board in the future.'

A Letter To My 22-Year-Old Self is on at the Absa Gallery, Johannesburg from 11 November 2018 – 25 January 2019.