Khanyisile Mawhayi will present a series of drawings and photographic works at Stevenson in Cape Town, from 29 April to 26 June 2021.

Khanyisile Mawhayi at Stevenson CT

Stevenson has hosted a number of projects aimed at giving younger, unrepresented artists a platform at the gallery, beginning with the Side Gallery series in 2007 and continuing with RAMP in 2015. Some notable alumni of these are Athi-Patra Ruga, Lerato Shadi, Serge Alain Nitegeka, Lady Skollie, Simon Gush and Igshaan Adams.

With STAGE the gallery continues this tradition. Besides offering a literal stage, the title also highlights that these artists are at a very particular point in their careers: no longer students, not yet professional artists. At the same time, it brings to mind the stages of lockdown and load shedding, part of South Africa’s daily reality in 2021.

Khanyisile Mawhayi marks debut of new series

For the debut of this new series, Johannesburg-based artist and writer Khanyisile Mawhayi presents a series of drawings and photographic works that examine various influences on identity formation and explore perceptions of cultural and societal belonging.

Mawhayi often works with the female body, using its presence or absence to complicate notions of resilience, lineal customs and the performance of femininity. Drawing from art history, popular culture and personal experience, Mawhayi sees her wider practice as a reflection on how society sees young Black women.

For STAGE, Mawhayi exhibits works from The Ambivalent Blueprint, a body of cyanotypes that the artist says “was heavily influenced by process – the process of having conversations with my mother, with my friends, with taxi drivers and lecturers; and the process of drawing and printing and making”. The Prussian blue impressions fade and form around her family history, spotlighting how she manoeuvres through different spaces with a heightened awareness of the ways in which her identity is positioned and perceived. These elliptical portraits represent the beginning of her conversations with the people around her, bringing into focus the tensions and parallels between who the individuals are and how she views them.

Pastel drawings

The photographic works will be shown alongside a series of pastel drawings on canvas titled Soshangane/Shiyangane/Shangaan. Mawhayi uses as reference the Xibelani dance, a traditional dance of Tsonga women which shares its name with the multicoloured skirts worn during its performance. She recreates the pleated cloth and woven wool through layers of rhythmic mark-making. What emerges are unfettered compositions, tactile traces of Mawhayi’s process of unpacking her relationship to her Tsonga upbringing.

Mawhayi was born in Krugersdorp, in 1998. She has a BA in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand. Mawhayi shows concurrently with Meschac Gaba.

What: Khanyisile Mawhayi

Where and when: Stevenson Cape Town from 29 April to 26 June 2021 as well as online at Stevenson