Saturday, August 21, 2010

basquiat: the ultimate

OK, so before I get too far down the line (and get too drunk on this saturday night) let me take a second to salute the main cheese, probably the most influential and interesting artist of our contemporary generation: BASQUIAT!

I have no words, actually, to describe the magnitude and importance of this obscure character.

He is great. An alter-ego who was not an alter-ego. A true artist through-and-through, to the very bone.


Monday, August 9, 2010

faith47: women, art & life

Every day is women's day.
I was raised by a single mother.
I know women. I love women.
But today, I'm allowed to speak about it. So SPEAK I will!

a heartist.

faith47 is one of the greats of our time. An urban legend in my early days; I never bothered to find out who the person was behind the art that brightened my city life, I liked the freedom to imagine.

The mystery of the graffiti artist is intriguing. It is the most distinct alter-ego artform that I know. Where the secrecy of the true identity of the artist is usually a closely guarded secret. Only the crew and graf community really know who's-who. It's like an unspoken code. Largely necessitated by the law, but also a critical component of the graf culture - anonymous messages laid out for those who wish to see, and those who see, really see.

Graffiti was a stepping-stone into my love for typography. Graf writers sometimes use such intricate typographical structures that it is like looking into a maze whilst searching for the word. For instance, in the photo (below), most people would see the african princess but not spot the faith47 typography at the bottom. It is these secret moments of appreciation that makes graffiti so cryptically unique.

I first took notice of graffiti while sitting on the train. The monotonous rolling sound of the wheels hitting the tracks puts me into a hypnotised zone and then all I do is look - out the window and absorb. In-between the cold, barren concrete walls would spring out these colourful puzzles; portals into a parallel galaxy of characters, letters and words.

faith47 is much like the angels she paints, oozing wisdom.
It is this sensitivity, sense of compassion for the atomsphere/world that makes faith47's art stand out. It comes with an energy that cares, that nurtures, that feels the joy and pain of others.

Gradually, I've seen faith47's artistry change from passive commentary to artistic activism. In the beginning her pieces spoke to me of broad concepts such forgiveness, pain, love, hope, prayer & beauty; that were missing from the world or needed to be thought of more often. But now her projects are statements.

The latest project is awe-inspiring. THE FREEDOM CHARTER.




I just love the matchbox beemer in this photo - irony is beautiful!

This project touches me personally because my mother has an old picture of The Freedom Charter stenciled on a wall in Salt River during the 1980s - "oh! the struggle days". So it's refreshing to see another graf artist taking on this project.

Check out the 'doccie' of the project:
The Freedom Charter seems to have been politically forgotten, but it lives on in art & faith47's project will leave an imprint on the youth of today and in that way the struggle kinda continues.

Another project is the restless debt of third world beauty.

[The score by Fletcher!]

That video is deep enough. I really don't want to say much more after that.

I guess, the point of this blog post is that there is great power in feminine energies. The ability to care more for others than oneself is an alchemy & through faith47's art, I learnt this somehow.

faith47 is a urban poet & an artist who's art will not be easily erased - even if the law paints over every piece, the ripple effect goes on...

In an interview she advises women getting into graffiti (but I think it applies to ALL women):

"You teach people how to treat you… be self contained… carry mace…"
My parting question/thought: Imagine the world if women ruled..?..

Sunday, August 1, 2010

King Daniel Memoir

I can remember clearly the first time I checked King Daniel. I think it was about 2001, I was 14. I was just getting into Hip Hop culture...

The setting was the daytime Saturday open mic sessions at All Nations when it was still on Lower Main (I can't remember the event's name but let's just say: those were the days). My friend and I would catch a train from Plumstead-se-kante and spend the afternoon soaking up the energy, in a way only young minds can. The room was hot-boxed, graf writers scribbling in their notebooks with bloodshot eyes. Ciphers in each corner. This was an event for consciousness.

I was studying the rappers, trying to grasp where they found the words, plucking them out the ether. King Daniel stepped up in his shy but intent way and took the mic. I don’t think I heard any of his words but already I knew King Daniel.

He dropped his personal scriptures in the characteristic multi-syllable style that he must have loved. His legs were always STRAIGHT, swaying side-to-side, backwards-and-forwards. Shoulders scrutched, mic clasped in two hands. Hoodie over his head. His rhyming persona says a lot about the way his mind worked. Quick, honest, deep and thoughtFULL.

I was fascinated and it must have (in some small way) contributed to my interest in something I call the art of artistry.

That’s what this blog is about, essentially.

I didn’t know who the first artist I would feature would be and then Life decided for me. This post is a memoir of a legend of eKapa; to hopefully record a digital artefact that will keep the memory alive. This recollection is based on my thoughts and memories, so its not fact but not-at-all fiction either.

King Daniel would be everywhere where things were happening. Always seeking the freshness, something that pushes the boundaries and opens minds. I think King Daniel was on a constant search for open minds. I don’t know though.

I’m listening to one of his albums while writing this. Heavy days. A freedom fighter, fighting for the freedom of his own soul. A compassionate heart, hurt by the pain of poverty in the world. Confused by society’s ways, because let’s face it, it doesn’t make that much sense. Lots of anger at this – the inequities and injustices. A son of the soil:

“I’m not to be mistaken for a beach bum/and/I get on the microphone & teach something/bringing a brand new game called Police Hunting/ever since my date of birth in East London.”

But then he speaks about many other things as well, his experiences and things that he actually went through. As those who knew him know, he lived a full life. He did it all, and more. Everytime I saw him, he was on some new hustle. A constantly creative man on the hunt for creativity, like a dog chasing its tail, it's a hunt that can never end.

There is much more that could be said, but the album is coming to an end and that is the time I set for the words to come through me onto this pixelised page.

The point I’d like to make is: King Daniel gave Bongani an outlet of expression and in his creative works, he lives on.

King Daniel gave us a glimpse into the other world behind his mind's eye. May he inspire us to keep searching for the truest art, that which fully expresses self, or in his words:

“Activity of creativity/since nativity/agility and versatility/verse soliloquy...vividly clear delivery.”

Lala ngoxolo King.