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Johannesburg, South Africa
4.4.2020   |  Art And About Africa

Get to know: Greatjoy Ndlovu

Greatjoy could have been a great curator but instead, we have a great artist. We have caught up with Ndlovu to get to know him better.

Greatjoy Ndlovu is a visual artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa; he always knew he was an artist, it was just a matter of choice for him, if and when, to become a full time one; he started as a landscape artist even if it has been a while since he had been commissioned such a work; instead, he found working with charcoal and oils a more ideal way of expressing himself.

Do you listen to music while creating? Which one?
I listen to various genres of anything with a rich appeal in its lyrical content, Coldplay being my favorite during my creative process. I also am a follower of South African Deep House and a fan of Kendrick Lamar.


What about your favorite food. What do you usually have for breakfast?
I love cereals for breakfast, something as light as some weet-bix or cornflakes does the trick for artists like me who shun the stove but not the canvas. My favorite meals are Ethiopian cuisines.

How and when did you find out you were an artist?
To me, it really wasn’t a matter of finding out, but rather a matter of choosing the path of living life as an artist. I grew up talented with art from a very tender age and had my skills nurtured around the ages of 13 to 18. I was nimble-fingered and creative in many other aspects, but visual arts was and still remains pinned skin close to my soul.

Tell us about the materials you use in your art.
I predominantly use oil and charcoal and have recently experimented with gold leaf successfully in most of my recent works. I love the boldness that charcoal brings to the scene, it is daring, grave and elusive, well suited to capture gloom, emotions, and movement. I use the different oil colors as an emphasis on what the charcoal has already spoken.

What pushed you to write your autography “The Path to Great Joy: A Collaborative journey through the art and life of visual artist Njabulo Great Joy Ndlovu by Ntsikelelo Mzibomvu, 2018?
My story is that of a relentless passion pursuit, with surety I understood myself to be an artist but I somehow was in a valley that sought to tax my faith. Its a story worth the ears of those fervently pursuing their dreams, a nudge onwards, a call to never give up.

Can you reveal something about your next project?
My next project is entitled Chain of Commands, a series centered upon the nature of culmination of events, one event to another, in the development of a major happenstance. It is more prevalent than society tends to inflate situational outcomes while neglecting or under-appreciating the events lying in between.
I myself is excited about it, more is to come up from it.

In your opinion, how art can influence what is happening in your city?
Art tones everything in Johannesburg, it is the pulse dictating the rhythm of everything done under its skies, the very muse upon which the soul of eJozi (as more often called), accounts for its captivating vibrancy.
To Jo’burgers art supersedes the simple cause of beauty, but is also a medium of protest, a handbook of stories told, a bard of poetry and an object of reliable investment.

How are people around you enjoying their life?
Those around me love life though they do still bear their own weights of living, diverse from one another. The privilege that proceeds with the work I do is expressly manifest in its ability to communicate with peoples of wildly different life experiences. It is a joy for them, to reckon moments of peace, shades of hope, their moments of joy and those of sadness, such bittersweet rarities of ranging nostalgia: their life in strokes of charcoal on a simple piece of canvas, intimate moments of pure joy.

Which factors are obstacles to such enjoying?
The most common factor obstructing the enjoyment is the affordability of art. Unlike in sports, in which one can afford a match ticket and some fancy fanwear to put on to a match and then walk out in high spirits after a win, posing a strong sense of belonging, art takes a different course altogether. It is less about a mere sense of belonging but added to it is also the need for an opportunity to possess the object desired for times to come, an honor that is often off the reach of many un-affording art admirers.

Tell us about something recent that changed your worldview?
The recent and continuing global scathe of the Covid-19 is been a game-changer in the story of my life. From its outbreak, a short span ago, to the extremely rapid pace at which it spread to infest virtually every part of the world with both disease and fright. I’ve come to perceive and experience in my time, the true nature of man’s fallibility and it’s ease of expression. In terror I’ve come to appreciate the humbling effects of a catastrophic occurrence and the inestimable value of human co-operation in such times, pain makes us whine, great or small, we are all human, after all, we seek alone to be healthy and happy.

Any advice to young artists?
Seek to develop art that shouts your own name, it’s good to have your art identify with existing popular forms of art but that doesn’t serve one well if they do lose the originality that defines them. Above all, don’t stop growing and experimenting with your art, understand this: your art should evolve but never lose touch.


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