Q&A with 2019 Award Finalist: MINENKULU NGOYI

After careful consideration of several hundred entries by artists from across South Africa, the judges have shortlisted 10 artists working in a number of mediums including painting, photography, digital art and printmaking.

The work of the shortlisted artists will go on show in a special exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 27 August – 14 September 2019 and the winner announced at the Award Ceremony on 05 September. The winner will be awarded a R20 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2020.

We asked the Ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them before the Finalists Exhibition.


Artist Statement

Postage stamps have been in circulation since the eighteenth century; more than 200 years later they are still sold but aren’t used as much as they were and are now more of a collection/collector’s item because of the historical value particular stamps carry.

The printmaking technique I chose in this series makes use of silkscreening because of the poster-like design of the prints. This series of prints came about after I attended a student council campaign at the University of the Witwatersrand for the 2019 national elections. I took some of the phrases that were said and interpreted them visually to show that nothing is what it seems.

“Voetsek, those that came by boat must go back by boat” is one of the statements made by an Economic Freedom Fighter Student Council (EFFSC) member. The said statement was motivated by the Land expropriation without compensation program that various South African political parties are involved in and that is currently very topical. This print was influenced by a postage stamp depicting the arrival by boat of Jan Van Riebeeck, a Dutch sea captain, at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652.

“Pasop, ons sal met jou honde begin” is another statement made by an Economic Freedom Fighter Student Council member. This statement was said in an indigenous South African language so I decided to translate it into Afrikaans so the message was understandable to its intended audience. The print is influenced by a rare 1930s South African stamp of a springbok antelope. Instead of a springbok I used a boerboel because it’s an animal mostly associated with South African farmers.

I used the postage stamp format in the prints as a metaphor that plays on the idea of how letters, goods and parcels were sent in the past and also in the present. It is also a commentary on the value of the prints themselves, comparing them to postage stamps.


Tell us about yourself. Where are your from, and where do you currently live?

My name is Minenkulu Ngoyi, I was born in Soweto in 1987 and I currently practice printmaking in Johannesburg. I’ve been involved in a number of group exhibitions both locally and internationally since 2012.

Art school (and if so where) or self-taught?

I studied a three year print-making course at Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg.   

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How did you learn about the Award and what made you want to enter?

I learnt about the Award on the VANSA website and thought it was different from other local awards, so I decided to give it a try.

What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?

The StateoftheART is a good platform for emerging artist because it exposes artists to a new audience and helps build artists confidence in their work and practices

Tell us about where you make your work.

I work from a from Victoria Yards at a studio called Danger Gavaar Ingozi (Printmaking collective) in Johannesburg.

What is your key inspiration as an artist?

I am interested in socio-political issues… From things I read, hear, watch and see on the internet.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

I don’t really have rituals or habits when creating my work, because print-making is such a delicate process the technical methods and steps that have to be taken to insure quality results is almost like a ritual (I hope that makes sense).

Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the momen

The idea of working with collectives to realise projects or shows is quite trendy right now.  Lately Im enjoying works from artists like Vusi Beauchamp, Asemalhe Ntlonti and Bulhe Wonder Mbambo.

How is your work relevant in a South African context?

In my work I use imagery from the past/old South Africa, from text to phrases or pop culture and media to bring across current issues or to bring out subliminal messages through my work.

What do you think South African artists can contribute to the global art market?

South African and African artists are in the global front as the rest of the world is having a much closer look and interest in South African art which is interesting. South Africa is very culturally diverse and artists should share more stories through their work to contribute to the global art scene.

StateoftheART is South Africa's leading online gallery. How important do you think it is for an artist's career to market their work online and through social media?

It is very important for artists to social media as a strategic marketing tool. It’s a good way for artists to get work out there without having to exhibit in an exhibition at the same time the works are seen by a much bigger crowd.  

How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works?

It's an exciting feeling to be part of a show with a different range of artists in such a vibrant gallery as State of the Art Gallery.

Do you have any plans for the coming year?

Yes, I will write more proposals for local and international residencies/opportunities, get involved in more group exhibitions, collaborative projects and workshops. Hopefully finally have a solo exhibition I've been wanting for a while now.

...Said A Member Of The EFFSC Ed. 4/5
If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2020?

I would like to work more on developing silkscreen and charcoal as a medium. Create more works around the migration and cultural identity… The more I research and work on these themes the more the work will grow and change, so the work won’t be the same until 2020.

Finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.

I am a co-founder of a collective call Alphabet Zoo est. in 2010 - A Street culture zine duo that invites collaborations with creatives from various disciplines from photographers, designers, artists, writers etc.