For the StateoftheART Gallery Award 2021, we asked artists to find ways to engage with the reality of climate crisis and its impact on their own community; to create work to inspire and encourage societal change. The 10 finalists were chosen from more than 600 submissions from across South Africa, with the judges scoring the artists on the creativity, originality, and technical skill of their entries to this year's Award theme ‘On The Brink, Visualising Climate Change’.
The work of the shortlisted artists will go on show in a special exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 16 - 30 October 2021, and the winner announced at the Award Ceremony on 16 October 2021. The winner will receive a R40 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2022.
We asked the top ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them before the Finalists Exhibition in October.
Learn more about the StateoftheART Gallery Award here>>
"The Soil" by Given Muronga. Acrylic and markers on Fabriano, 50 x 70cm.
Given Muronga is a contemporary artist who gets his inspiration from realism and abstractions.
He uses his inspirations and influences in an innovative way to create a visual language that pleases the eye and nourishes the scholar, due to the information and meaning behind every creation. Born and raised in Pretoria, he attended the highly acclaimed art high school, Pro Arte
Alphen Park where he thrived and better understood his practice. While in high school he had managed to secure a number of group exhibitions mostly around the Tshwane region and compete in a number of art and design competitions. He later studied design and visual arts (specializing in acrylic and oil painting on canvas) leaving a meritorious reputation in the institution. He decided to enrol for a Commerce degree as he thought understanding the concept of producing products and selling them was essential to his practice.
1. Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and where do you currently live?I am from Gauteng Pretoria, where I was born and raised though my heritage root of origin is from Limpopo where my nurturers and overseers are from.
2. How did you learn about the Award and what made you want to enter?I occasionally visited the VANSA website and their Newsletter when I first came across this award. I was very anxious at first, because of the magnitude and importance of the given theme ‘On The Brink, Visualising Climate Change’ and how my interpretation of the theme would better encapsulate the right message to the theme -that became the more reason I entered, because of how complex and interesting the conversation around climate change is. A challenge I was willing to partake in.
3. Tell us about where you make your work.I work from home. Everything is just convenient.
4. What is your key inspiration as an artist? I love music, philosophy, biography podcasts, poetry, fine arts, movies and books. My brain has a way of finding inspiration from the most simplistic and/or complex concepts.
5. Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?Good art requires great ambiance, which I create using music. I usually work at night because it is usually quiet, and my mind gets to process everything adequately-night time is definitely the best time. I have also recently gotten to the habit of listening to podcasts while working on my pieces, it makes the room a lot less lonelier and or quieter.
"Seigaiha" by Given Muronga. Acrylic paint and markers on Fabriano, 50 x 70cm.
6. How does your work convey the threat that climate change poses to our planet and country?The pieces I was required to create were divided into the three sphere that climate change affects on to our environment, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and ever piece has its own narrative, I’m a visual artist and so I’m using paints and graphite(and other mediums). This has allowed me to have the ability to tell any story relating to the given themes. Climate change has always been something I've always been cognizant of and I chose to make my art tell that story, a visual story, and to create an awareness to the neglected cause.
7. How is your work relevant in a South African context? My work tells the African story, through the use of naturalistic motifs and unique patterns, Africa in general is communicated through my art. I have tries to make my art a lot less realistic and more painterly to allow the eye to move around the textures and imperfections that realism brings with the completion of the pieces-paying homage to the artists that came before, after all I am an offspring of the great African artists dead of alive and I feel like my work carries that African identity.
8. What do you think is the most urgent action required to tackle climate change in South Africa?Water is a necessity, the need to save it and distribute it is equally as important. Water needs to be conserved by those who are fortunate enough to access it and water needs to be accessible to those who still find it hard to access it.
"Stem Punk" by Given Muronga. Acrylic paint and markers on Fabriano, 50 x 70cm.
9. Which South African artists, organisations or environmental activists do you find inspirational at the moment and why?Lionel Smit, Nelson Makamo, Karabo “Poppy” Moletsane. Their work is simply just spectacular and rooted with identity and individuality.
10. How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works? I have spoken to some of the Finalists, they are very much deserving of this opportunity. Their work is all unique with meticulous detailing, I’m definitely a fan of their work! I feel the exhibition will be a success, Cant wait!
11. What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?Incredible initiative, more opportunities like this need to be established, there is a lot of great art and talent that is created and harnessed behind the four walls that goes unseen, this is really a great initiative , I could only hope for this institution to grow stronger because it is definitely deserving - for the work it is doing.
12. If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2022?I have a lot of ideas, I could pick from, I’m loving how my work is reflecting of my life at the present moment, but I’m also in love with the unknown, how far can I push the scale - for me that is all I’m after, Growth and betterment, learning and unlearning, but still remaining a student. How far? You would just have to wait and see - to unravel the baggage.
13. Finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.I’m very reclusive, I definitely have the most awkward human interaction isn’t that surprising?
Given Muronga at work.