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Lerato Scribess Sibanda

Lerato Scribess Sibanda - Power.Passion. Purpose - I am a writer, academic and spoken word artist -- http://beautybeginswithbe.blogspot.com/

Unleashing dragons in myth at the Art Factory

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By the time I sat down with Azael for a one-on-one session I was on a high intoxicated with every kind of emotion expected of an erratic eccentric like myself. I look over at Karabo my partner in criminology, and find even in my blurred state of mind that though I could be declared whimsical he on the other hand had reached nirvana…heck he had all but eloped with Nirvana! Azael looks over at him and then back at me demurely and somewhat patiently and I wonder what thoughts are mounting up his medulla oblongata. I thank him for his time and mutter my name somewhere between planting my teeth into a ketchup and mustard soaked hotdog and licking my fingers and realise as an after-thought that I lacked a certain kind of… what do you call it?

Yeah that’s the word ‘professionalism’. I look at him shyly my eyes telling of my shame and he gives me the heads-up ‘I understand your type’ nod. The brother really doesn’t seem to be fazed by my quirky behaviour so I figure that he must hang out with gremlins at night, after all his mind has carved out the vision that I see before me. Across from where Azael and I are sitting is a life-sized creature that I fail to name and yet find to be familiar in an uncanny sort of way. I guess that is what makes it beautiful because I sit at a loss of words for a minute or two gazing at it with Azael beside me. The bear-like creature stands at a unique angle as if it’s about to mount, pounce or set off in flight but somehow got frozen in time before it could follow through. My mind escapes me and sojourns into Narnia at least that is the product of the nostalgia brewing in me as I muse over the art piece. Finally when I do collect my thoughts and thank Azael for his patience and time in allowing me to interview him he acknowledges all with a smile, and so we get talking.

Azael who is a 2nd year art student at TUT tells me that what we are looking at is an academic project where the class was briefed on creating a creature, any creature he says. But what is the catch I ask? He smiles slightly realising that he has not revealed all and explains that the catch is that it they had to create the creature around a mythology concept. My eyes revert back to Azael’s creation and it’s as if the proverbial scales fall off my eyes faster than one can say “wow!” The artwork had been so hypnotising that I had failed to see its simple elements right in front of me. I had, for example, not noticed the unicorn standing like a phallic symbol on the mythical creature’s head. In a moment of catharsis I formulate a philosophy for art as I realise that art has a rippling effect in the eye of the mind.

So with my mind’s eye being amplified I start to notice little things about Azael’s creation that I note in my vanity are what contribute to its aesthetic whole. I mention this to Azael and he looks flattered and from his explanation I understand that the creature is a combination of what is familiar because it has familiar elements constructed together in a fantasy: the creature has a horse’s body or trunk, the legs of a goat, the wings of an eagle and Unicorn head and horn. I am mystified at how this strange thing is so strange yet beautiful and in a fleeting moment can captivate one’s imagination. I want to know more about this individual who made it because if I had met him amakhoneni I never would have guessed that his mind is a world of dreams. Azael, a humble young man from Daveyton refers to himself as a “spontaneous artist” who can never put too much thinking into the process than he does the doing.

He merely creates. As we talk some more about his background I am astounded to hear that he there are no artists hailing in Daveyton in fact he surmises that he may be the only Daveytonian who has ever studied arts. This opens up a whole new dimension in the interview. The question is posed: why is it so taboo for abodarkie to allow their children to study arts or even consider it as a profession? The question hangs between us like a dark ominous cloud and we choose to let it hang. I am taken aback to learn that Azael’s speciality is actually in painting and not in sculpting or carving or whatever the classification of this type of art on display… His versatility as an artist renders him as a walking contradiction: How can this guy so meek and so humble have such a daring imagination, such a creativity to create myths in an era where classic art has been forgotten and commercialised to a haunting extent?

Imagine my surprise when he tells me that his inspiration is life and people but more particularly the loksion where he hails from. I find it ironic how Daveyton serves as a frame of reference or drawing board for Azael to create a mythical creature. What is the marriage between a township in the 21st century with Greek society in the 17th century where various mythologies were birthed? It cannot be denied this loksion boy has got skills and by the end of our ad hoc interview he has literally transfigured with every explanation of his magnificent work. I see a splinter of a smile, a hint of charisma and charm, a prelude of personality as he explains to me how he achieved his creature: I used palm trees for the wings, peeled bark for the body, wire and re-inforcement bars…As Azael takes me deeper into his creator mind, I evaporate in a wisp of a mythical dream.

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  • @ Don: I can see that you are a firm believer of the holy scriptures and literally take God at his word…wow ! Also I appreciate that you are a mouthpiece of consciousness, of what you’ve grown conscious of through the knowledge (biblical) that you’ve acquired. I on the other hand still struggle at times to read the Word ? But I’ll tell you this though I DO believe that in life we are meant to test every piece of knowledge, to actively absorb it into our membranes and chew on it in stead of merely accepting … so as such as you’re questioning the reading of the art I also on the other hand am question your interpretation of the bible scriptures regarding graven images, not to be stubborn but because it is only in meditating comprehensively upon the matter that I may gain understanding and in turn belief. Call me a maverick?

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  • Donald The Neosapien

    lovely then Lerato!
    Well my concern does come from you wanting to erect it in your room simply because the very act of creating a graven image is prohibited.I suggest you read it. My reference of idolatry is not the literal worshipping of a ‘statue’ or the replacement of God in someone’s life by a statue, it is way more deeper than that. However the bible is very clear about the creation of graven images. “4Thou shalt not make unto thee ANY graven image, or any likeness of ANY THING that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
    See? My train of thought is that, if one truly believes God is ALL KNOWING then one wouldn’t argue about such because surely we can presume God knows why He is saying that. Just my 2 cents.

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  • @ Don: Yo thnx 2 the headsup & constructive criticism it’s always appreciated :)For mo on Azael…he is a 2nd year art student & his specialization is visual art (check the 1st pic). I am not sure how one can go about seeing more of his art but I’ll hit you up wit sum info soon coz like u said my profiling of the man behind the work is somewhat lacking so please do watch this space for more! As about your take on specific art being potentially idolatrous I am not too convinced I would agree that art takes the place of God only if attributed ‘worth-ship’ by an individual otherwise its simply another language t oexpress, another platform to communicate ideas and creativity. Perhaps your concern stems from my comment of wanting to purchase a griffen to place to erect my room…? That is was just a statement tongue in cheek…

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  • Donald The Neosapien

    amazing stuff! Very well written article Lerato!! Although I must admit, it some how reads as incomplete, I wanted to know more about the artist, what goes through the passages of his mind etc. Otherwise, very well written, enrapturing indeed!!Please permit me, in lieu of the more commonplace behaviour, to throw in a spanner into the works; such creations are biblically seen as idolatry(no! do not think of the literal worshipping of idols/statues but rather the creation of a graven image as highlighted in exodus 20) although modern society calls it art. As a Christian, I am torn between such knowledge…One could easily say “oh lighten its just art, you don’t have to bring your beliefs into this” but I say Christianity is a lifestyle so I cannot ignore what my bible tells me….catch 22 you think?

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  • @ Matt: ja a griffin it indeed is! I searched bout it on Wikipedia and found out more:
    ‘The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Greek: ??????, grýph?n, or ??????, grýp?n; Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.’

    With that being said I also want to know how much this thing cost so that I can set it up in my bedroom…Azael how much does the thing cost buddy?

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  • Azael may i ask…how much is your Griffin worth? in Rands…

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  • Azael

    Thanks for the time that you took to interview me and the opportunity that you gave me to showcase my work.

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  • matt

    the mythical creature portrayed is a griffen… these guys r mad talented… keep pushin

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  • Hey Azael noyed meeting ya. Hope u njy th article. Kp on the faya ayt! Word

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  • @ Don: I can see that you are a firm believer of the holy scriptures and literally take God at his word…wow ! Also I appreciate that you are a mouthpiece of consciousness, of what you’ve grown conscious of through the knowledge (biblical) that you’ve acquired. I on the other hand still struggle at times to read the Word ? But I’ll tell you this though I DO believe that in life we are meant to test every piece of knowledge, to actively absorb it into our membranes and chew on it in stead of merely accepting … so as such as you’re questioning the reading of the art I also on the other hand am question your interpretation of the bible scriptures regarding graven images, not to be stubborn but because it is only in meditating comprehensively upon the matter that I may gain understanding and in turn belief. Call me a maverick?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Donald The Neosapien

    lovely then Lerato!
    Well my concern does come from you wanting to erect it in your room simply because the very act of creating a graven image is prohibited.I suggest you read it. My reference of idolatry is not the literal worshipping of a ‘statue’ or the replacement of God in someone’s life by a statue, it is way more deeper than that. However the bible is very clear about the creation of graven images. “4Thou shalt not make unto thee ANY graven image, or any likeness of ANY THING that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
    See? My train of thought is that, if one truly believes God is ALL KNOWING then one wouldn’t argue about such because surely we can presume God knows why He is saying that. Just my 2 cents.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • @ Don: Yo thnx 2 the headsup & constructive criticism it’s always appreciated :)For mo on Azael…he is a 2nd year art student & his specialization is visual art (check the 1st pic). I am not sure how one can go about seeing more of his art but I’ll hit you up wit sum info soon coz like u said my profiling of the man behind the work is somewhat lacking so please do watch this space for more! As about your take on specific art being potentially idolatrous I am not too convinced I would agree that art takes the place of God only if attributed ‘worth-ship’ by an individual otherwise its simply another language t oexpress, another platform to communicate ideas and creativity. Perhaps your concern stems from my comment of wanting to purchase a griffen to place to erect my room…? That is was just a statement tongue in cheek…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Donald The Neosapien

    amazing stuff! Very well written article Lerato!! Although I must admit, it some how reads as incomplete, I wanted to know more about the artist, what goes through the passages of his mind etc. Otherwise, very well written, enrapturing indeed!!Please permit me, in lieu of the more commonplace behaviour, to throw in a spanner into the works; such creations are biblically seen as idolatry(no! do not think of the literal worshipping of idols/statues but rather the creation of a graven image as highlighted in exodus 20) although modern society calls it art. As a Christian, I am torn between such knowledge…One could easily say “oh lighten its just art, you don’t have to bring your beliefs into this” but I say Christianity is a lifestyle so I cannot ignore what my bible tells me….catch 22 you think?

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • @ Matt: ja a griffin it indeed is! I searched bout it on Wikipedia and found out more:
    ‘The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Greek: ??????, grýph?n, or ??????, grýp?n; Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. As the lion was traditionally considered the king of the beasts and the eagle was the king of the birds, the griffin was thought to be an especially powerful and majestic creature. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions.’

    With that being said I also want to know how much this thing cost so that I can set it up in my bedroom…Azael how much does the thing cost buddy?

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
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    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Azael may i ask…how much is your Griffin worth? in Rands…

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
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    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Azael

    Thanks for the time that you took to interview me and the opportunity that you gave me to showcase my work.

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    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
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    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • matt

    the mythical creature portrayed is a griffen… these guys r mad talented… keep pushin

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    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  • Hey Azael noyed meeting ya. Hope u njy th article. Kp on the faya ayt! Word

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