CREATING POSSIBILITIES THROUGH EXCELLENCE
Artist Proof Studio is one of the most successful visual arts education facilities in South Africa, producing top-quality artists and printmakers who are respected worldwide. They are leaders in fine art printmaking excellence, specialising in arts training, print collaborations, partnerships, sales and distribution of prints.
Artist Proof Studio is one of the most successful visual arts education facilities in South Africa, producing top-quality artists and printmakers who are respected worldwide. They are leaders in fine art printmaking excellence, specialising in arts training, print collaborations, partnerships, sales and the distribution of prints.
Artist Proof Studio (APS) is a community-based printmaking centre in Newtown, Johannesburg, founded by Kim Berman and the late Nhlanhla Xaba in 1991. One of the largest and most vibrant printmaking facilities in Southern Africa, the organisation’s core function is to create ‘possibilities through excellence’. This extends from their education programme, which subsidises and trains talented young artists, to their alumni and associated artists.
APS’ education programme accommodates up to 100 students per year, 60 to 80 of which are fully subsidised by hosting, publishing and collaborative projects with many artists and organisations each year. Some of these students are further sponsored to achieve a university degree.
APS has 30 staff members and interns on its payrolls. The organisation employs its fourth-year graduates as interns. Through this programme, they receive professional work experience and are expected to independently produce work that can be showcased on all of APS’ sales platforms.
Some of the current well-known young artists have either graduated from or been associated with APS, like Nicholas Hlobo who became a protégé in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé programme and whose artworks can be seen
at major art fairs around the world. Phillemon Hlungwani, Mongezi Ncaphayi, Jan Tshikhuthula, Themba Khumalo and Nelson Makamo are a handful of well-known APS alumni.
APS also has a team of master printers who each have many years’ experience in collaborative printmaking. Their deep commitment to excellence enables alumni and artists who publish with APS to produce some of the most skilful, dynamic and innovative printmaking work in the country. Some artists who have used APS’ printmaking services include William Kentridge, Walter Oltmann, Norman Catherine, Diane Victor, Gerhard Marx, Willem Boshoff, Colbert Mashile, Doris Bloom, and Mmapula Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, among many others.
By chance (or perhaps not), Creative Feel has featured artworks by APS alumni two months in a row now. Themba Khumalo’s Let’s Fly Together As One graces our June cover – the print depicts the iconic Turbine Hall with a flock of birds flying over it in Khumalo’s signature style.
Khumalo has become known for his emotive charcoal drawings that capture busy cityscapes and the vast empty fields he observes in and around Joburg where he lives. In an interview with Kholisa Thomas, Khumalo said that ‘One of the themes behind my work is based on my relationships with people. In my work, I explore feelings of connectivity and isolation. My attempt is to build trust and closeness with others through my artwork. There are never human figures in my images. Electric poles, plugs and cables feature a lot in my work, these are metaphors for life, energy, hope and movement.
‘The subjects are seen in different contexts, all outside, in a city or landscape. This gives the context and the atmosphere is created by the sky. I’m used to being alone and being with myself. I think this is the reason why you will find that my work is so empty; it’s only now that it’s starting to have more movement and I’m adding human figures in my work. It’s a reflection of my upbringing, that sense of being alone and as I grow older that longing to find a connection. I think this is something people who like my work relate to the most.
‘I have a digital camera, which I take with me wherever I go. I often document scenes between Johannesburg and Orange Farm. I take pictures of spaces and the sky at various times of the day. These images are used as a reference and from there I develop charcoal drawings. I like using charcoal because it allows for manipulation of form and the blending of tones.
‘Etching is my chosen printing technique because it allows me to use the range of tones that are present in the
original charcoal drawings. Each work created is intended to capture and evoke a different mood and feeling.’
Since graduating from APS, Khumalo has participated in numerous group exhibitions, solo exhibitions and had residencies in places like France and Germany. ‘Artist Proof Studio was one of the best things that happened to me as an artist, I still go back there and it’s like home to me,’ he says.
This year, Khumalo’s work will be for sale by APS and Gallery2 at RMB Turbine Art Fair.
The artist behind our July cover, Lebohang Motaung studied at both APS and the Vaal University of Technology.
A hairstylist in addition to being an artist, Motaung’s work focuses ‘on the activity and process of doing hair, and the significance of hairstyles in women. I am mostly influenced by the conversations I have with some of the people I plait.’ She works mostly in printmaking and drawing, centring around the theme of hair.
“This exhibition will serve as a refresher on her work, and on the various forms of still lifes and what they represent”
Another technique that Motaung has developed is using synthetic hair fibres to create portraits, with braids and plaits often reaching off the canvas.
Blaque Inq Contemporaries will present // MORIRI | We’re OURSELVES at RMB Turbine Art Fair. This will be a ‘hair’ themed solo booth of prints, drawings and photography work by Motaung, alongside a special experimental hair plaiting performance piece and behind the scenes short film documentation of Motaung’s collaborators, influences, inspirations and creative process. The show celebrates how hair has taken on many meanings in cultures across Africa and today – a fashion statement, a medium for beauty but also an object of loss, a symbol of pride, identity, time passing, and ultimately art.
Artist Proof Studio’s stand at RMB Turbine Art Fair is a must visit; find some gems from some of South Africa’s top artists, or invest in some of the country’s most promising young artists.
Themba Khumalo, Creative Feel June 2018
Lebohang Motaung, Creative Feel July 2018
Kim Berman at work at Artist Proof Studio