Mashudu Nevhutalu: Matriarchs
Mashudu Nevhutalu’s work centres around feelings of nostalgia; a longing to go back to a special or significant moment in time. For Nevhutalu, these feelings and memories are drawn from the faded hues of old family photographs. His painterly interpretations and use of colour, however, are often bright and intense in an attempt to bring about feelings of euphoria. Palettes of warm oranges and vivid pinks saturate his canvases, reinvigorating images of the past whilst remaining true to their inherent familiarity.
Nevhutalu’s figures are often captured in a moment of peace and imbued with a sense of stillness. They are seen sitting, standing or simply enjoying a moment when nothing else around them seems more important than being present. Many of these figures are women, captured by Nevhutalu with a maternal sense of sensitivity and strength. This focus on female figures has much to do with Nevhutalu’s upbringing as he was raised predominantly by the women of his family. Apart from his mother, there was always an aunt, a grandmother or an older sibling there to nurture the artist. As such, painting women was never a deliberate choice of his but rather something that came naturally. In its essence, ‘Matriarchs’ pays tribute to Nevhutalu’s familial past and the figures who forged it.
Mashudu Nevhutalu was born in Auckland Park, Johannesburg in 1992. Although he did not receive much art training at a primary or high school level, he has always had a keen interest in art. Mashudu’s first artistic influence was the graffiti and street murals he saw that decorated dilapidated buildings, almost bringing them to life with their colours. This love for graffiti urged Mashudu to pursue art at a tertiary level where he received an Honours in Fine and Applied Arts in 2014 at the Tshwane University of Technology. As an artist that year, Mashudu felt as if his foot was in the door and that he had found his voice as he was selected to participate in the Sasol New Signatures Competition. As his work developed each year, he went on to take part in a number of small group shows and other competitions such as the SA Taxi Foundation Art Award in which he participated in both 2016 and 2017.
Mashudu seeks to bring about feelings of nostalgia in the viewer looking at his work. He believes these feelings occur from anything such as a dress worn by one’s mother, or a bumper sticker that reminds one of their parents’, or their own, first car. Mashudu is interested in photography and works from old family photographs in his paintings. Though these images are personal to him, he believes that we have all had similar experiences and moments captured in photographs. In his works, Mashudu’s figures are simplified and often made to look hazy and blurry, this depiction emphasizes the notion of memory being a vague and elusive thing. This effect also removes the identity of the person from the original photograph, making the work universal and the figure representative of anyone the viewer wishes them to be from their own memories. Mashudu’s use of bright, vivid colours is his way of reliving those memories and creating them anew.
Mashudu Nevhutalu: Matriarchs runs at 99 Loop, Cape Town until 25 July 2020.
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