Nando’s Creative Exchange 2021 – the artists

Every year, we get fired up to help a new batch of artists to take the next step in their careers through our Nando’s Creative Exchange programme, run in partnership with Spier Arts Trust. 

Nando’s Creative Exchange (NCX) aims to recognise emerging South African fine artists who demonstrate exceptional ability and help them take the next steps in their careers. The programme offers four artists mentorship opportunities, with art materials sponsorship, culminating in a group exhibition. This is showcased first at the Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg and then at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, as well as in the Latitude Art Fair online gallery.

We’re thrilled to announce the four artists selected for Nando’s CX 2021:

  • Adrian Owen
  • Eric Rantisi
  • Llise Dodd
  • Mongezi Ncombo

Adrian Owen

Adrian Owen is a self-taught artist who specialises in fine art, portraiture and illustration. His preferred medium is charcoal, which suits his highly considered and emotive work and highlights his attention to detail. A trip to Chiang Mai in Thailand in 2007, which introduced him to the dry brush technique, which he has adopted in his charcoal drawing.

Born in Zimbabwe, Adrian immigrated to South Africa in 1984 and currently lives in Kommetjie, Cape Town. Apart from his art practice, he continues to freelance commercially as an illustrator in the publishing, advertising, film and television industry. He has participated in a number of group exhibitions, the most recent being SHE, RK Contemporary, Riebeek Kasteel in 2020. Open Studio’s Kommetjie was a solo exhibition of his, also in 2020.

He has been participating in the Creative Block programme since 2017. Creative Block is also an artist development programme run by Spier Arts Trust and the introduction to the Nando’s Art Initiative for many artists.

“The Creative Block, since my acceptance to participate in 2017, has been an instrumental programme in the trajectory of my professional art career,” he says. “I hope in some of my work to capture both our innate vulnerability and our responsibility to our detriments, as well as evoke the beauty in our vast potential. That being said, the Creative Block, has reminded me of what can be achieved through simplified, engaging and beautiful subjects, which

possess less narrative and more scope for the viewers imagination,” he says.

Eric Rantisi

Lehlohonolo Eric Rantisi was born in Tembisa, an informal settlement in Johannesburg, and grew up fascinated by images of his township surroundings, drawing to capture their likeness and often drawing portraits of neighbours. His artworks take a critical view of social, political and cultural issues. He often references history, working with oil paints, and mass media to produce artwork exploring the relationship between issues of representation and identity. Eric currently lives and works in Johannesburg.

Eric graduated with a B-Tech Degree in Fine and Applied Arts at the Tshwane University of Technology in 2006 and has participated in various local exhibitions. He’s been selected for several art competitions, including the Absa Atelier, Sasol New Signatures and the PPC Young Sculptors Art Competition. While he was studying, Rantisi was commissioned by Telkom to create a trophy for the Journalist of the Year Award.

He has been participating in the Creative Block programme since 2019. “My artworks is a critique of social and cultural identity,” he says. “I reference history and current affairs to produce paintings that explore the politics of identity and representation. I explore the grey, uncertain areas in identity formation while referencing dominant discourses on representation and mainstream views on identity.”

Llise Dodd

Llise Dodd is a visual artist whose work is influenced by visual rhythms in nature and everything she sees, touches, smells and experiences. “When I paint, these memories flow through my hands to form a painting.”

Llise works in acrylic paint and uses symbolism and / or surrealism to bring forth messages in her work. “My ‘wow’ moments... when I see a viewer in front of my work and I know that they’re thinking and that their feeling channels are open.”

Llise was born in Knysna, studied music (B.Mus. musicology) at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and subsequently visual art under Pieter Naude at the Knapp School of Arts (Uitenhage). Llise currently lives and works in Elands River Valley, Eastern Cape.

She offers acrylic art workshops for adults and has opened her studio to the public. She planned the first Art Safari in the Eastern Cape and is a judge for visual art competitions and festivals. Her work is published in the coffee table book Art and Artists of the Eastern Cape. Her most recent exhibitions include Art Meander in Port Elizabeth and the 2019 Fringe Exhibition (part of the Grahamstown National Arts Festival). Her artworks are held in collections globally.

Llise has been participating in the Creative Block programme since 2017.

“This current time we live in, stripped us from the layers we were used to and left us standing challenged in a place of change. My work explores the relation between people, their experiences and sentiments, whether physical or spiritual,” she explains. “The landscape becomes a symbolic place of these experiences and sentiments. Through the juxtaposition, this place can form part of an object’s symbolic value: telling a story to be interpreted by the viewers’ own experience.”

Mongezi Ncombo

Mongezi Ncombo works primarily in acrylic drawing ink, acrylic paint and fine liner on canvas. His use of colour allows him to create a contrast between the subject matter and the background.

His body of work investigate the subject of seeing beyond preconceived concepts based on historical records, mass media, communication, traditions, culture, forms of education and other sources of information. It asks what these influences mean to us as individuals and how we connect to the information.

Born in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, Mongezi left to pursue a career in art and currently works in the Johannesburg city centre as a full-time artist. Ncombo studied Visual Art and Design at Central Johannesburg College and graduated in 2010. He subsequently studied at Artist Proof Studios and has participated in an Art Exchange Programme at One Eloff Studio and a mentorship programme at the M Studio. Recent exhibitions include the Mpho Art and Design, Julie Miller Contemporary Gallery (Mall of Africa), Goethe Institute and at Firstbank with MMarthouse.

Ncombo has been participating in the Creative Block programme since 2018 and currently lives and works in Johannesburg.

The four NCX artists will receive valuable curatorial input from Spier Arts Trust, as well as mentorship from a more established artist. This year, that artist is Bretten-Anne Moolman. She says she enjoys using art to communicate, be it about natural and/or social commentary, quiet or quirky. Her works are often layered with deeper meaning. She hopes to engage the viewer with intrigue and create awareness when needed. Bretten-Anne’s preferred medium is either acrylic or oil paint.

“The challenge has always been to create a work that is true to my perceptions, either a thing of beauty or a comment on human behaviour,” she says. 

Graduating with a Fine Arts Degree from Rhodes University (1991), she went on to complete a Higher Diploma in Art Education with three distinctions in 1993. Living in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) as a professional artist, she’s also been teaching art to children and adults since 2000. She has held nine solo exhibitions, the most recent being About Rain at the GFI Gallery Port Elizabeth in 2019. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions over the years with the latest in 2020: About Rain in conjunction with a group show called Promise of Rain at The Imibala Gallery, Drostdy Hotel, Graaff Reinet.

We can’t wait to see what the 2021 Nando’s CX artists produce. Make sure you’re signed up to our Nando’s Creativity newsletter if you’d like to catch their exhibition in October in Cape Town at the AVA Gallery or online at Latitudes.