In his third exhibition entitled As If You Care, Ngobeni continues with his commentary on South Africa’s landscape through art. We caught up with Ngobeni to chat about his work, his experiences and any pearls of wisdom he may have for upcoming artists.

Your work is said to be a commentary on South African politics, what sort of visual messages do you hope to portray through your work?

I don’t set out to comment on politics, but I reflect the world around me. My message: to make people aware of the system.

In what ways have your past experiences of poverty, homelessness and imprisonment influenced the work you produce?

My past is a mirror that is constant in all my work.

While remaining true to your township roots, your artistic style is said to be influenced by the likes of Norman Catherine and Miro – what is your response to this?

It’s a pity that African artists always have to be compared to the so-called masters. At the time when I was developing my own sense of style, I had no idea who these artists were.

Having established yourself as an artist, what advice can you give to upcoming artists facing similar circumstances of financial struggle with limited opportunities?

The young artists must dig deep and be true to themselves while finding ways of dealing with their daily challenges. This industry is tough and needs tough people. Most importantly they must have a long vision for their artistic practise.

As If You Care is currently being exhibited in Cape Town, what inspired you to create this body of work?

The essence of my themes does not change. As If You Care is a commentary on the torture of the system on poor people, how it manifests and also how it adopts a friendly face with the co-option of academia into the status quo.

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Illustrations Blessing Ngobeni

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