/ 23 May 2024

Exploring healing and African spirituality: Kagiso Gundane’s show at RMB Latitudes Art Fair

13. Kagiso Gundane (1)
Kagiso Gundane
Kagiso Gundane,isithunywa I,2023,acrylic Ink On Canvas,133cm X 397cm
Kagiso Gundane’s Isithunywa I will form part of his exhibition at the RMB Latitudes Art Fair.

Multidisciplinary visual artist Kagiso Gundane is set to showcase his latest work at the RMB Latitudes Art Fair, taking place from 24 to 26 May at Shepstone Gardens in Johannesburg. 

Although the collection remains untitled, Gundane has revealed that the central theme revolves around healing, drawing deeply from African spirituality.

Gundane, 25, has spent years developing a body of work that delves into the intricate layers of this spirituality, inspired by his mother, a practising traditional healer. 

This lineage forms the core of his artistic exploration. 

“I used African spirituality as a lens towards tackling the post-colonial issues that we have in South Africa, particularly for black people who suffer from colonial trauma,” he explains in an interview with the Mail & Guardian

“I feel like we have not fully healed from that trauma. Trauma is not only psychological; it is also something that is in your DNA.”

Through his art, Gundane addresses the profound need for healing within the black community, recognising the lingering effects of colonial trauma. 

His works are more than visual expressions; they are part of a broader dialogue on recovery and transformation. 

“This is a process of healing and a transitional period that we have to go through as black people.”

The emotional depth of Gundane’s work has a significant impact on those who engage with it. He recalls a poignant moment during a walkabout in a gallery when a viewer was so moved that she cried, finding a sense of release and healing through his art. 

Creating art centred on African spirituality presents unique challenges, particularly given the cultural taboos surrounding the topic. 

Gundane admits, “this is a really heavy topic”, and adds that, “Speaking about it has always been taboo but I think, currently, more people are having important conversations about it. One of the challenges I went through was trying to get through the barrier of not engaging spirituality.”

In his creative process, Gundane experimented with Kanga cloth, a Dutch-printed fabric traditionally worn by healers, viewing it as a medium for spiritual communication. 

This experimentation led to a profound and unsettling experience. 

Kagiso Gundane, Phakamani Ii, 2024, Acrylic Ink On Canvas, 171cm X 135cm (8)
Kagiso Gundane’s Phakamani II will form part of his exhibition at the RMB Latitudes Art Fair.

“I just remember having the cloths in my room, and when I slept that night, it felt like something came to me, and I started trembling. It came from my stomach, all the way to my chest,” he recounts. 

His mother confirmed it as an ancestral visit, prompting Gundane to shift to using canvas instead. 

This incident reinforced the spiritual weight embedded in his work.

Despite this, Gundane remains committed to using his art to provoke thought and inspire healing. 

“My hope when I made the work was that people would start having conversations on how we can move forward and heal from the trauma we carry in our DNA,” he says.

The RMB Latitudes Art Fair is in its second year as a platform.

One of the fair’s special projects — the Independent Artist Exhibition or Index — brings together an exciting group of independent artists from South Africa, the African continent and the diaspora. 

Index pushes towards subversion, according to its curator Denzo Nyathi, and explores what it means to be independent.

Going against the generally accepted rule that artists must be represented by a gallery, Index seeks to break down the barriers which exclude independent artists from art fair participation.