Who is in the current position of ‘Hlafunya’(means to chow very hard) on the circumstances in South Africa? Is it the people holding onto the word of politicians promising them a better future or is it the politicians that feed on the people for their own gain? These are the type of situations Siphiwe Makgoka a 23year old artist from Soshanguwe looks at critically to achieve the level of creative social commentary in his artworks. By addressing current situations and issues within the political, social and economic fields of South Africa, Makgoka’s sculptural works are relevant and serious with a humoristic element attached to some of the pieces sculpted from cement and steel. The subjects addressed in Makgoka’s work makes his work open to a wide audience, because we all are influenced by the circumstances surrounding the behavior and decisions of these ‘anonymous’ politicians. Makgoka does not depict certain individuals in his works but the figures are representative of powerful demanding figures dressed in suits. With this anonymity the viewer are challenged by the work to attach their own thoughts and feelings towards what they see and the pieces creates awareness of Makgoka’s specific outlook.

Makgoka started his creativity at the age of 7, when he saw his older brother draw, but first it was merely drawings that contained copied images from his brother’s drawings. He soon learned the basic techniques of drawing and developed ever since on his own because art was not part of the education programme at his school. After matriculating, Makgoka enrolled for Fine and Applied Arts at Tshwane University of Technology in 2008, he is currently busy with his B-Tech in Fine Arts at the same institution.

The artworks included in the Stepping_Stone 2012 exhibition, Makgoka visually depicts an “X” throughout in different ways, the symbolic play of this mark is crucial because it is an element that links the people and politicians because through using the “X” when voting they direct their support/faith towards a certain party. The symbolic use of elements is just a way Makgoka is emphasizing this link and it supports the way the artworks achieve to confront the viewer ready to be interpreted by new views and opinions.

The mixed media (cement and wax figures) sculpture “Courtship” is the only piece that focuses on a body of people (politicians) rather than just a single figure, its addressing politicians as a body of commercial leaders and how they use the same techniques to gain the support of the people showing that they are all basically the same when they are in their comfort zone. The political figures are displayed in a suitcase, this suitcase Makgoka explains as being the promise land the politicians promise to the people in their long “Blah blah blah” (text on the paper that is placed in the suitcase) speeches.

Siphiwe Makgoka wants to achieve the creation of dialog between his artworks, views depicted and the viewer’s personal feelings and opinions towards these current situations in South Africa. The works are open for viewing till the 28th of October in the East Gallery of the Pretoria Art Museum.

By Eliz-Marie Schoonbee