Nene Mahlangu, Humble
10and5 talks to Humble by Nene Mahlangu about her art and the moments in between.

10and5 “In-Between” Sits Down with Nene Mahlangu…

10and5 talks to Nene Mahlangu about her art and the moments in between.

The “In-Between” Interview Series delves into the often overlooked but crucial moments that happen between the major milestones of a creative journey. These moments encompass periods of reflection, experimentation, and growth that occur away from the spotlight. The series is dedicated to capturing the nuances of this journey, exploring the processes, challenges, and inspirations that shape a creative’s work during these quieter intervals. Our focus with the “in-between” series is to uncover the hidden gems and insights that contribute to the overall narrative of creativity and artistic expression in Africa and the world.

10and5: What sparks your passion for your craft and how do you sustain inspiration during quieter moments?

Nene Mahlangu: What sparks my passion is remembering why I started in the first place. When I made the decision to start creating artwork, I made work because I not only wanted people to feel good and encourage self-reflection, I also want people who look like me to feel seen and empowered. Whenever I sway away from that, my inspiration goes down, that’s when I know that I must take a step back and recharge. When I am in quieter moments, I find that coming up with ideas that go against the grain keeps the furnace of my inspiration lit up. You will see some of these ideas in my solo that is opening on the 26th of May.

10and5: How do you navigate through the ups and downs of your creative process during quieter times?

Nene Mahlangu: I’m lucky that I have other interests outside of the creative space that can distract me from creative blocks. Outside of work, I work in spaces that are involved in saving people’s lives and the more I immerse myself in those spaces, the more I desire to create artwork that creates a positive impact on the people who interact with them. That is why I embrace the quieter moments, those moments of reflection are so valuable because they help me to gain perspective on why I’m doing what I’m doing. I’m happy to say that I’ve tapped into that sense of purpose in my upcoming solo.

10and5: Who are five individuals who have profoundly influenced your work, and how does their impact show during quieter moments?

Nene Mahlangu: I value my mother’s influence in nursing my resilience and positive outlook. I value my father for teaching me the value of patience. I value my sister for teaching me how to always react from a place of love; she has also taught me the value of giving myself grace if I were to make a mistake. Although I may not know her personally, I’m a big fan of Serena Williams. I think her desire to be her best regardless of what the world throws at her, the way she handled victory and defeat on the court is a masterclass I am a student off. And regarding my artwork, I respect Pablo Picasso’s ability to reflect the different stages of his life through his art. I love how his art changed and kept changing the older he got. That kind of dynamic art feels more honest to me than artwork from an artist who keeps doing the same style forever.

10and5: What’s on your agenda for this week, and how do you balance routine and tasks with creative exploration?

Nene Mahlangu:My agenda for the week is to wrap up the details of my solo exhibition that is coming up. This is the bravest I’ve been and I’m proud of myself for how different this show is going to be. I’m a disciplined person and I make sure that every hour of my day is accounted for, which makes it easy to account for the things that are important in my life.

10and5: Can you give us a glimpse of what’s on the horizon for you? What projects or ideas are you working on during quieter moments?

Nene Mahlangu: My solo is on the horizon, I’m in love with what we’ve done for it. I have just submitted the trophies that I designed for the Milken-Motsepe prize, which is organized by the Motsepe Foundation. This is the second year I’ve designed the trophies for them. In quieter moments, you’ll find my nose in a book or you’ll find me making sure that I’m taking care of my health by eating well, exercising, and staying away from toxic habits.

Our catch up with Nene Mahlangu was a captivating insight into the life of an artist deeply rooted in her heritage, using her creativity to inspire and empower others. Her story serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of authenticity and the potential for profound inspiration in life’s quieter moments.

* Stay tuned for her solo exhibition happening soon.