Sama’s solo exhibition is an invitation to celebrate the little things that lead to a sense of fulfilment. Declaring that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, the artist emphasises the importance of making happiness a daily choice and a personal investment.
Exhibition Installation of Sizwe Sama, It’s raining men!, 2022. Hand-stitched patchwork with cotton, linen, shweshwe and polyester, 300 x 210cm. Africa First x Gordon Collaboration, Tel Aviv. Courtesy of Africa First X Gordon.
Sizwe Sama’s solo exhibition ‘What Makes Your Heart Fly?’ is an invitation to celebrate the little things that lead to a sense of fulfilment. Declaring that “you can’t pour from an empty cup”, the artist emphasises the importance of making happiness a daily choice and a personal investment. For Sizwe, happiness is closely related to his friends, family members and the LGBTQI+ community, which he honours by depicting them in his compositions.
The vibrant colours and various patterns in his works let our eyes bounce back and forth and ask us how far we are willing to go to attain a feeling of lightness. The title of the show ‘What Makes Your Heart Fly?’ is a reference to this feeling and derives directly from the recurring bird motifs (flamingos, peacocks and flying feathers) in the compositions presented here.
Sophisticated works of bricolage, the artworks are composed of fabric cut outs from the Seshweshwe , brocade, linen, and wax fabric. These materials are a conscious selection which draws on Sizwe’s personal experience. In fact, it was Sizwe’s mother who taught him how to stitch his own clothes, a technique through which he got to learn about the strength and durability of each material he uses.
Playfully drawing on this legacy, Sizwe’s work is characterised by the visibility of its process of cutting and stitching together the layers of fabric. Making visible the long, delicate, and strategic technique that goes into the assembling of the pieces, Sizwe draws our attention to the amount of time and energy that we put into the things we do and invites us to find our own ways “to fill our cups”. Happiness, as he sees it, and how the artworks here on display suggest, is not a destination, but an ongoing pursuit a constant stitching together of the little things.
Sizwe Sama (b. 1986, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) “Vibrant and dynamic, my artwork celebrates the queer community and single mothers through bold, hand stitched compositions. Colourful patterns keep the eye dancing across the work, evoking the celebratory spirit of Pride. I am a self-taught artist, but my mother, a seamstress, taught me how to draw, sew, combine colours and be creative. Hand stitching my works is therefore a tribute to both her and all single mothers. By honouring women and celebrating members of the LBTQ community, I hope my art inspires a change in attitudes in South Africa and beyond.”
Sizwe has exhibited in shows in Johannesburg, Lisbon and Antwerp, as well as in online fairs with Guns & Rain such as FNB Art Joburg 2020, African Galleries Now 2020 & 2021, and Investec Cape Town Art Fair Digital Event 2021. His work already sits in multiple international and local collections, including the AMAWAL (Spain) and ARAK (Qatar) and Africa First Collections.