Fugly gallery brings arts to Khayelitsha

Nwabisa Nkonyana and Yolanda Sihlali are the brains behind this bold initiative.

Most township parents do not understand precisely what fine art is and do not support their children’s desire to pursue it as a study or career option. In addition, the black community particularly in the townships, often see art as a waste of time. As a result, talented and gifted artists from the township have given up their passion and love of arts. These were the bold statements made at the launch of Fugly Art Gallery in Town Two, Khayelitsha, on Sunday December 2.

The gallery, based in a shack, is the first of its kind.

A total of 11 artists exhibited their work.

The idea to launch an art galley was conceptualised by artists Nwabisa Nkonyana and Yolanda Sihlali who said artists were batling to find platforms to exhibit their work.

The 24-year-old Ms Nkonyana said many people saw no value in art while others simply didn’t understand it.

She said art in the township had for years been taken for granted and through this gallery they wanted to disturb the current status quo of the art industry and enable gifted artists an opportunity to show their work.

Ms Nkonyana said they wanted township parents to understand what art is and why they should not deter their children from pursuing art studies. She said she chose art as it was her passion and enabled her to express her creativity and emotions. “We are artists and that’s it.

“We are not apologetic about being artists. We are not dirty, or drug users but we are creatives and visionaries. We want our parents to be our support structure,” she said. Ms Sihlali, 25, added that they intended to conduct training and workshops aimed at empowering the artists. She said many artists were frustrated due to the lack of support and opportunities in the township.

This, she said, was one of the main reasons they had launched their gallery.

Artist Yanga Lingani studied phothography, fine art, graphic design and graduated in 2013 with a national diploma from the Cape Colllege. The 27-year-old said he was proud to announce that he made 90% of his income from art, and that his work had been bought by people in Indonesia, the Philippines and the USA.

He said he started drawing at the age of six and was grateful to have enjoyed the support of his family.

Another artist, Khayalethu Ndolela, 32, said he worked as a security guard and cleaner before he opted to pursue art, from which he makes an income.