Maswana’s art crystallizes “the beauty and strength that black people possess”

Maswana's artwork is a look at the black experience from a position of royalty and luxury.  Photo: Included

Maswana’s artwork is a look at the black experience from a position of royalty and luxury. Photo: Included


Since the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, we have to some extent been allowed to enjoy the simple pleasures of life again. An art gallery visit is such a pleasure and has given us the opportunity to see Qhamanande Maswana’s first curated exhibition with 99 Loop Gallery.

Maswana, who was born in the Eastern Cape, began his journey at a young age when his parents recognized his talent for art and encouraged him to pursue it.

Qhamanande Maswana creates art that speaks to his everyday life and the black experience in South Africa. Photo: Included

“I was about five years old when I made my first work of art. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was in kindergarten. We were given colorful clay and told to create everything that comes to mind. The teacher went out of the classroom so I ended up collecting clay from the classmates who did not use it and built a giant robot.

Maswana says:

I remember my teacher walking in with great amazement and calling all the teachers to come and see my work. I was still young so I was a little confused. I just remember them standing over me and complimenting me. It made me feel very special because I knew I was doing something that other children could not.

With this, his path was set as he continued to hone his talent at Forbes Grant High School and eventually on social media, giving him the recognition he needed to pursue art full time.

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This time, his art is seen through his exhibition Leaving Behind Yesterday, which takes an intimate look at and explores social stigmas and identity and sociocultural tendencies. In the true nature of Maswana, he tackles marginalized groups who find themselves in distressed spaces, striving to improve themselves and become successful in their own ways.

Qhamanande Maswana and his exhibition Leaving Behind Yesterday at the 99 Loop Gallery in Cape Town Photo: delivered

“I have experienced a lot as a young artist in South Africa,” says Maswana. “I have managed to stay open to opportunities to step into the new and fully embrace the present.

“My work also challenges narrow ideas and portrays a version of successful life in modern times that I found particularly interesting.”

The artist encourages the viewer to engage in his paintings and to realize that we all have our own ways of living, which are determined by what we define as success. However, this perception sometimes differs from what could be popularly defined as elements of status, recognition, and prestige. This can best be seen through his work, which aims to depict everyday life and its struggle.

Black is Blue Maswana’s Self Care Sundays. Photo: Included

“I have taken inspiration from the conditions around my environment. I see and interact with so many people every day. I approach them, and they usually become the focal point of a work of art I am creating, ”says the artist.

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Maswana’s paintings catch the eye for their striking depiction of the black body with skin tones of purple and blue. His motifs are often placed in townships and cottages, where the colors symbolize royalty and luxury.

“I love to paint what I see on the street, but also my friends and family. I wanted to focus on the beauty and strength that black people possess. I see this as my duty as an artist to recreate the image of these bodies in a new light, a light that depicts royalty that is excellent in their appearance and innate abilities, ”he says, adding that his work gives viewers an insight into untold stories and he hopes viewers will have room to stop, connect and engage with the bodies portrayed in his art.

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