Johannesburg-based visual artist Semi Lubisi’s artworks are inspired by the day-to-day lives of ordinary people in the township. Speaking to Africa Daily Post the artist whose artwork is in charcoal, acrylics, and watercolors, says he believed in his talent and knew that art was his calling.
Lubisi, from Tembisa, was born into a family of six siblings. After doing odd jobs including a 9-5 with a financial institution he finally resigned to pursue art full time.
“I’m a fourth born to a family of six siblings (two males and four females). I matriculated at Eqinisweni Secondary School then went on to enroll in Electrical Engineering at Wits University and dropped out due to financial constraints. I then went on to do odd jobs, my longest was a 9 to 5 with one of the financial institutions from 2008 until I resigned to pursue art on a full-time basis in 2019.”
His artworks are inspired by ordinary people ranging from young kids playing to adults moving up and down the township streets.
“My artworks are inspired by the day-to-day lives of ordinary people in the township. Being it young kids playing in the dusty streets of Ivory Park or the after-school walks where kids share jokes, visions, and ambitions of what they aspire to be. To the young adults selling in the streets to make a living to the adults moving up and down the streets running their errands to and from work.”
The artist says his passion for art revealed itself during his primary school days. Like many kids, he loved cartoons and would draw cartoon characters in his books. Lubisi recalls when he knew art was all he wanted.
“I always loved cartoons, so as a child id draw cartoon characters on my books. I’d say my passion revealed itself during my primary school days. As I grew my teachers would encourage me to read and learn more about Art and not let the passion die. When I read a Gerald Sekoto book and got to see his works as well as other masters’ works, I just knew that art is all I wanted.”
Leap of faith
Lubisi says no matter how hard he tried to ignore art he couldn’t function normally. He did pursue it part-time while working but felt as though he was cheating on art as he was not giving it his best.
“I believed in my talent, I knew Art was my calling. No matter how hard I’d try to ignore or abandon it, I just wouldn’t function normally, my sanity was in drawing and painting. While working a 9-5 I would do art part-time. The more I did it on a part-time basis I felt I was cheating it as I was not giving it my best. At the same time, I felt I was cheating my 9-5, as well as I’d, have to split my efforts. It took me years to come to what I call the biggest decision of my life thus far.
In 2019 I took the leap of faith, quit my job, and ventured into art full time.”
With every calling and the decision to pursue your gift, there are challenges that one will encounter.
“I struggled a lot with getting my works out there via Galleries, getting exposure, that’s the biggest challenge.”
However, for Lubisi he considers each day a blessing, and life itself inspires him. He advises anyone who wants to pursue art to follow their passion and keep on painting.
“Follow your passion and keep on painting. Familiarize yourself with the Art Culture. Visit galleries, artists’ studios, chat with them, enroll in institutions like Artists Proof Studios. Get as much information as you can and most important of all “never stop painting”. Remember that not everyone will like your work however that shouldn’t discourage you from keeping on pushing forward.
Lubisi would like to see more people engaged in art and getting more exposed to art and artists. As most of the media coverage goes to music and sports and he would like to see more media coverage of the arts.
“I would like to see more people engaging, appreciating, and getting more exposed to the arts and artists. Art, like music, heals the soul. It would wonderful to see more media coverage of the arts, similarly to the attention they give to music and sports.
Support is essential being it from the government or private institutions, the creative sector is always forgotten when it comes to supporting. It would be uplifting to see more support and attention being given to the visual arts.”
You can follow Semi Lubisi on Instagram @semi_sa and see more of his artwork. For those in Johannesburg, in the Gauteng province, his artwork is on display at the Ellis House Art Studios.