Home is the theme of this year’s Nando’s Creative Exchange, in partnership with Spier Arts Trust. The group exhibition, which will run until 16 January 2020 at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town displays works by four emerging artists; Adolf Tega, Thembalethu Manqunyana, Robyn Pretorius and Wonder Marthinus.
The Nando’s Creative Exchange was first established in 2011 to recognise emerging, South African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability. The four artists selected for this programme enjoy the opportunity to take part in an exhibition sponsored by Nando’s, as well as mentorship opportunities.
“Nando’s Creative Exchange aims to help artists to develop their careers through assisting them to improve their business skills, providing access to the market and exposing them to gallerists, buyers and the art industry,” explains Kirsty Niehaus, who heads up the Nando’s art initiative. “Nando’s is the largest collector of Southern African art in the world, with more than 21 000 works in our collection, and our aim with our art and creativity programmes – which have grown to include design and music – has always been to develop and showcase local talent in a way that makes a difference in the world.”
This year’s Creative Exchange artists have been mentored by Sepideh Mehraban, an Iranian-born artist, working and living in Cape Town. She is currently completing a PhD in Fine Art at Stellenbosch University. In 2018, as part of her PhD research, she curated an exhibition in gallery MOMO in Cape Town and Johannesburg titled Cape to Tehran: Re-imaging and re-imagining personal history in Post-Apartheid South Africa and Post-Revolutionary Iran. In Mehrahan’s academic work, as well as in her personal projects, there is sensitivity toward recent history in Iran with parallels to be found in South Africa.
“Over the course of the last few months I’ve had the privilege of mentoring these four artists’ journeys as part of Nando’s Creative Exchange programme,” she says. “Seeing their vision and the power of art to narrate stories that haven’t been heard yet was an exceptional experience. The collaborative processes of monthly studio visits and having conversations around our practice created new spaces for thoughts and imagination. Surely, these creative activities made us all feel at home – free from where we are coming from and our social-political background. The sense of belonging and having the freedom to share our experiences gave us agency. The universal language of art vanished uncanny moments of feeling dislocated and rather felt “homely”.”