Joval Umoru - Black visual artist

Manelisi Nene, (South Africa)

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Manelisi’s Biography

Durban-based self-taught visual artist, Manelisi Nene’s pride in his rural community is evident in his work. Almost all his works contain traces of where his umbilical cord was buried.

He explores themes around black people’s bodies, in the context of culture and traditions in historical and contemporary times, and the impact of these people in his life.

Using acrylic paints, mixed media, and a vibrant colour palette, Nene’s work comments on the relationships and cultural activities in rural areas, the language, and significant moments of his childhood.

In his repetitive symbolism, he uses fruits and flowers as a representation of the figure’s character and his childhood. A reminder of all the types of fruits they would pick in the wild while herding the cattle in the rural Umbumbulu, Durban, KwaZulu- Natal.

2021 – RAW Exhibition, KZNSA Gallery, Durban.
2021 – RAW second edition, Durban.
2021 – _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Exhibition, BH Studio Gallery, Durban.
2022 – IMIZUZU, Muholi Art Institute, Cape Town.
2022 – Dream Realm (Cobra Exhibition), Youngblood Africa, Cape Town

Sometimes art reflects the artist, and at times the core of the artist is worth more than the art itself. The latter could be compared to Nene’s character in the creation process, which is layered and in developmental stages. He possesses a significant understanding of language, culture, religion and community. Eloquent in his use of words, he goes through a distinct process in the naming of his work. Using multimedia, Nene’s strength is in the narratives behind his work and his brush strokes.

In his repetitive symbolisms, he uses fruits and flowers as a representation of his childhood. A reminder of all types of fruit they would pick in the wild while herding the cattle. Also, representing the kindness and natural warmth of most women in his life. There is distinctive freedom in how Nene allows spectators to connect and define the impact of his work as they wish. The notion of finding comfort in the words of others is common among many artists. “I understand body language better”.

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