Mongezi Ncaphayi might be known as an award-winning contemporary fine artist – his latest win being the Gerard Sekoto Award in the 2013 Barclays L’Atelier art competition – but this self-taught saxophonist is equally passionate about music. It is the meeting of these two creative processes that comes to life in Ncaphayi’s uplifting solo exhibition, Spirit’s Response, the first exhibition of the new year at the Absa Gallery, taking place from 7 to 26 February 2016.
The exhibition is Ncaphayi’s first solo exhibition since returning from his three-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris last year as part of his L’Atelier prize. He says it mirrors the people and situations he has come across, while at the same time paying homage to his love for visual and musical art.
“My work reflects my everyday life. It is a direct response to my life's experiences; a record of my thoughts, feelings and ideas about life's situations, the people I meet and my environment.
“My imagery feeds on musical influences, especially improvised music, and particularly that found in jazz. I also use my own musical improvisations to create visual compositions, making my artwork more personal. I explore the relationship between music and visual arts by listening to how music tells stories. I see my work as visual sounds and music,” Ncaphayi explains.
His interest in the technical and visual simplicity of the way his work deals with space is evident in his minimalist prints – 45 artworks of which are on display as part of Spirit’s Response.
Ncaphayi holds a National Diploma in Arts & Design (2005) from Ekurhuleni East College Arts School, a Professional Printmaking Certificate (2008) from Artist Proof Studio and a Certificate in Advanced Studies (2012) from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA.
Aside from the Barclays L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award, he has previously been awarded a scholarship from Linda Givon of the Goodman Gallery (2011); a fellowship to the Ampersand Foundation (2011); first prize in the Decision 2012 printmaking juried show at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2012) and a grant from the Prince Claus Fund (2015).
As part of his Barclays L’Atelier prize, Ncaphayi is given the opportunity to host a travelling exhibition through the Alliance Francaise network comprising the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), Alliance Francaise and the French Institute in South Africa. Spirit’s Response debuts at the Absa Gallery in February 2016 and now will showcase in October at KZNSA Gallery in Durban