CROSSROADS: TSELA TSE PEDI . Artist, Masindi Mbolekwa

Published 12 April 2024 in Exhibition Blogs



Masindi Mbolekwa

The crossroad as I imagine it, represents a split in direction, a place at which one faces the need to decide to take one or another path, it is also an experience, one of liminality, a space defined by it’s lack of definite place. It is neither right nor left, forward nor back.

Much of the themes of my work is influenced by this experience of indefinite-ness. The binarial line is the space I occupy. I am both Xhosa but outside of what I have known traditionally to be Xhosa, I have felt both part and apart, I both know and know so little, I both desire god and wholly deny it, I love unyieldingly the things for which I feel the most hate.

It is easier to identify what culture and identity are than what they are not. I know better where I don’t fit than where I do, so I find it easier in my work to ask questions than provide answers. Is nowhere a valid place to be? Does not choosing to constitute a decision? What does it mean to exist on the divisional line between tradition and contemporaneity? To admit ignorance and hypocrisy through prophecy? To reference through disruption and misuse? To fear becoming that which I have projected onto they that are? To heal this wound by deepening it

Masindi Mbolekwa


Masindi Ikhona Nafisa Mbolekwa (b. 2002) is a young artist living and practicing in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mbolekwa’s primary practice is a conversation with painting, history, culture, space, community, and God. Born into a proud and rich indigenous culture in a space of little tolerance, he finds himself caught between the necessity of modernism, and the romance of tradition; the institutional pull of the west, and the soul-bound call of home.

In interrogating identity, colonial mechanisms, religion, metaphysics, and the popularized, mythicized histories of “man” (as centred on the hegemonic west), he fashions a mythos of his own: an explorative pseudo-narrative to ground his experienced state of ‘groundlessness’. A reflection of liminality, a questioning of binaries both real and constructed, a debate with God, an ethereal safe space, a descent into the shadows of the divine.

Artist statement

Caught by the institutional pull of western practice, tradition, and cultural hegemony, and drawn by the spiritual/communal pull of indigenous practice, culture, and archive, Mbolekwa’s work explores the binaries and liminalities that make up his uniquely South African identity in an ever growing, ever colonizing world of cultural melt, through the questioning of the conception of identity at the personal and societal levels. His is a practice that is interrogative of himself and the

environments that inform him, through careful referencing, ambiguous meaning, and a mythological language, he questions the construction of culture as pure, and explores this through themes of loss, intersection, obstruction/hidden-ness/darkness. He seeks – almost hopelessly – to fully map his subjective human experience through the imagining of its fluidity as visualized and coalesced into a personal mythos.

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