Gwadla Gwadla is a twenty-one-year-old self-taught multidisciplinary artist and a Bachelor of Social Science undergraduate student with majors in both Psychology and Sociology at the University of Cape Town. They are currently based in Johannesburg, where they were born and raised, and Cape Town, South Africa. They are also the owner of The Resurrection Apparel™️, an online clothing store centered around e-commerce.
I am passionate about studying history, engaging in discourse on societal issues, practicing spirituality and experimenting with creativity. My mediums of art include, but are not limited to, film, fashion, photography, music, poetry, painting (acrylic paint and water paint), drawing (ink drawing) and mainly digital manipulation (photoshop).
With today’s technology, we can literally do anything we want with images. As a creative, I take advantage of this innovation to serve my creative process by strictly selecting vintage images (largely from Pinterest) of people who look like me for employment in my digital collages. Subsequently, I use digital manipulation tools like Paint 3D on Microsoft programs to then crop out these images. I enhance the details of the overall image by incorporating surreal backgrounds and landscapes into my collages.
My work fits in with current contemporary art because of its central theme – Afrosurrealism as well as my usage of digital tools to produce this effect. The subject matter of my work ranges from family, sexuality, love and the metaphysical.
My digital art which is available for purchasing as prints in various canvas sizes, is informed by my academic interests and is inspired by the desire to decolonize contemporary beliefs about, and perceptions of African cultures and heritage. With my work, I seek to reimagine the ‘Black experience’ by drawing from the experiences of both indigenous and diasporic Africans (in the historical and current context). Along with reimagining the ‘Black experience’, I seek to conceptualize the space that ‘Black bodied individuals’ occupy using pre-existing concepts (from the Italian Renaissance) – and adapting them to suit my purpose. Renaissance artists focused more on the ideas of humanism and naturalistic portrayals of the world and people around them.
My intention with my work is to celebrate my African heritage and identity. I feel a strong sense of duty to represent my people in a more humane manner. As informed by traditional African spirituality, I think not of the individuals in my collages as subjects but as beings of metaphorical representation. I strive to create an interactive platform with my work, where the essence of these individuals penetrates the screen and can be felt by the audience.
To reinforce this effect, I select images of individuals who are staring directly back at the ‘forth wall’ and disrupting the sense of disconnection between them and the viewer. This technique is important to my work because of the historical consideration of how Black people were never allowed to look as White people in the eyes. This relates to Frida Orupabo’s work and she terms it “The Gaze”.
I would like to imagine that the spirits of these individuals are looking down upon my work with pride as they get an opportunity to be resurrected and embellished but importantly, used to further a positive cause.
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