Like Maliza Kiasuwa, the young multidisciplinary artist Abongile Sidzumo works with material from the everyday world that he allies with recycled objects. Trained at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town in painting, drawing, and sculpture, he has a particular interest and respect for leather which is his preferred material. The process of tanning cowhide fascinates him. "We must not forget that leather comes from the skin of an animal," he says, because what interests him most is the relationship we have with the living, nature, animals, and the way we live together.
He likes to associate leather scraps and different materials that he repurposes in order to give them a new life, to have a new perspective on these objects that have been damaged, forgotten.
He likes to work with the idea of finding beauty in what has been thrown away. He links them together through a process of sewing and embroidery, a repetitive and difficult gesture that leads him to meditation. He practiced this gesture for a long time as a child, to repair his personal belongings. Through this movement, the artist consolidates childhood memories and places in which he lived. He spent his childhood in the Langa Township in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and then his family moved to Cape Town where he currently lives.
Aware of the gap between these two spaces, these two territories, he wonders about this part of the marginalized society from which he comes, which is far from the social reality in which he now lives in Cape Town. His wall pieces appear as abstract maps, landscapes that he interprets as ways of looking at the history of post-apartheid South Africa and questions on human nature. The sewing that assembles these reused materials as spaces and memories is also a way for Abongile Sidzumo to address resistance and healing process of the black community in his country.
Also trained in sculpture, he also creates works in leather and with recycled materials. The volume and the effect of movement that they produce fascinates. I highlight one of them Dismembered (2019) made with a cylindrical-shaped leather suitcase. For the artist, it symbolizes the movement towards a transformation, the balance to be found or a new life to build. It shows this power and this will of Abongile Sidzumo to bring forth another visual pattern, another discourse. As mentioned, his childhood memories and the spaces associated with them influence his work. When his parents migrated to Cape Town, a period of transformation and social molting began for him. He transposes it today into an artistic gesture. During our interview, he answered my question about the meaning of movement in his work by talking about migration, starting with his own. More recently, the experience of confinement in 2020 has led him to represent himself in his work. He incorporates the black body into his work and extends his thinking about the place of marginalized communities in his work by identifying them in their daily lives. He thus touches on broader socio-political issues and challenges perceptions and legacies of apartheid by advocating a movement towards self-assertion.