Sethembile Msezane

b. 1991, South Africa

Isililo (a wall/wailing)
Stretched mull, hairpiece, oil paint & acrylic paint
140 x 70cm

Image courtesy the artist

Isililo (a wall/wailing) was part of the artist’s 2023 exhibition at the BKhz gallery titled, Liguqubele iZulu, which offered a collection of  monochromatic paintings that take on “the shapes of cloud formations, representing a fog of darkness, release through rainstorms, and even a floating lightness.”

This work is a reflection of the artist’s personal experience during a challenging period between late 2017 to 2021. The monochromatic paintings are intended to capture the essence of different seasons, reflecting on the changing cycles of nature in relation to the fragility of human emotions. Some of the works are imbued with rainwater, plants used in snuff, and air through breathwork that created unique patterns on the delicate, porous canvas. 

For Msezane, hair has often operated as the connecting force between human and natural or metaphysical worlds. 

“In charting this slow, painful and meandering journey of death, grief and rebirth, Msezane’s interweaving of cloud-like hair tufts and snuff on this porous canvas calls into being a spirit that is insistently and materially present. In so doing, she complicates and collapses the boundaries between spirit and matter, surface and material, memory and present reality,
fragmentedness and repair. Interweaving the celestial and the terrestrial through these materials, Msezane reflects her grappling with complex and conflicting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states during painful seasons of transformation,” writes  Xola Nhliziyo.