Cinematographer and Visual Artist
Who is Thulani?
Thulani Nhlapo was born in KwaThema in 1984, schooling both his primary and secondary years in the same neighbourhood.
In the year 2007 he went on to study print making at Artist Proof Studio, and later moving to Johannesburg in 2016, mainly August House to further his career as an artist and growing experience within the art scene.
Thulanis’ work aims to convey an emotional story through illustrating the fragility of his life from personal experiences. Chaotic attention to detail application of paint indicates the process of each subject’s journey, in that it is not necessarily clean or grounded, but highlights that there are a variety of factors that stress the journey, a journey that the subject travels uniquely in solitary and meaningful only to themselves in a way unimaginable to the audience. The strong use of dark, black and aloof outlines of the subjects dares the audience to a recognisable human anatomy so as to say “keep trying” and one will eventually pull themselves together in harmony as a result of these experiences.
Thulanis’ work captures the deepest feelings of the subject; he makes a conscious effort in all his work to prompt this core essence so as to reveal something more important, something real, and hidden by self-limitations and society. With subjects often looking away from the audiences direction, there is a sense of doubt in the subjects being, one which forces them to shy away from attention in the hopes that all else that is happening around them will interest you far more than it would the subject even as the meaning of the painterly chaos stems from that of the subjects or even act as a distraction to the subjects genuine emotions and essence.
His work is constantly evolving as are the subjects he depicts, capturing their transition into a new life, no work is ever of the present but their distant future and loves to challenge himself by bringing something new and unique with each story. He finds expression for emotions shared by many, especially those living on the fringes of the mainstream society as they are most likely to have a hold on the past.
The abstract imagery in his work represents the act of survival while the text often obscure, stresses questions of identity within society.
He has a diverse field of experience – from being an IT technician to being a professional cinematographer and a visual artist, and within those spaces having worked with big companies nationally and internationally such as Isidingo and National Geographic, to name two.
He hopes to see more black people taking up space and finding their voice.