'Art makes Life more interesting than Art'
'Charging wild towards the future we know nothing about, come to think of it, what makes us do what we do, love what we love or even choose not to? Are we really in control of our lives completely?'
Layziehound Coka was born in Bilanyoni situated in Northern KwaZulu Natal in 1982. His early years were determined by the South African apartheid system that separated people of different race, and permitted very limited educational choices for people of colour.
The 80s were characterized by turmoil, violence and the uprising of young, black people protesting against the regime. He attended a local primary school at Bilanyoni, before he moved to Inkamana, a Catholic High School in Vryheid in 1995. Coka matriculated at Sinethemba Agricultural and Technical Boys School. He moved to Gauteng in 2001 and started studying engineering in 2003 at Pretoria Technikon. He gave up engineering for fine art in 2005 when he started studying print making at Newtown’s Artist Proof Studio (APS). He has been working as a professional artist since graduating from APS in 2007 and predominantly works with acrylic and charcoal on paper or canvas.
Layzie has participated in a number of group exhibitions and solo exhibitions. He exhibited in public and private spaces as well as commercial galleries. Currently Layziehound Coka works from his studio in Johannesburg and lives with his wife and children between Pretoria and KwaZulu Natal.
My artwork takes a critical view of social patterns and illnesses, political and cultural issues with expressions made in hip hop lyrical content and poetry.
My process of creation is borne from an attraction to these messages, which I translate into a visual product. The metaphoric symbols and imagery used in my work are subtly provocative yet assertive in their approach to the punchlines in each particular piece, which include the use of sweeping lines, boxed text and a microphone – my signature icon- which serves as a representation of society’s internal dialogue.
I intend for my work to be a catalyst for deeper discourse between inner voice and instinct, and thought with decision. I try by all means to connect people with their feelings, as an advisor or teacher or a visual conjurer would do, in order to elevate minds to transcendent levels of reasoning. The experience of my artwork is not simply visual but allows for the movement of philosophical contemplation as the viewer is exposed to thoughts that are unique in their commonness.
My art makes bold statements, which offer the necessary reflective healing for human elevation. My intense connection to my own spirituality allows me to unapologetically share
Posted from Cape Times 26 July 2017
Written by Danny Shorkend
NOT A JUDGE, NOT A SAINT Paintings by Mpumelelo “Layziehound” Coka
THE EXHIBITION of Mpumelelo “Layziehound” Coka promises to be one of quite interesting depth and unusual method. His work seems to be a social commentary of sorts, but perhaps what works best is his loose mark-making and almost direct use of paint. The influence of graffiti, which the artist has practised for many years, is evident. Yet he also employs methods of a pre-Renaissance drawing style, such as outlines, a certain flatness and symbolic colour.
His drawing is strong and displays a confident mark and observational skills. However, this is not just an exercise in some sort of process. The imagery and titles certainly speak to a range of subjects: “The devil made do it”; “Judging idols”; “Earthly judges and prophets of doom”; and the list goes on.
One could argue that the artist has interpreted such themes with their social, cultural, religious, political and economic dimensions in quite a literal way, but he adds to the significance of such social commentary in visual terms.
He uses signs; incisive line and figures that convey emotional discord. Text sometimes is included and adds to the drama, a sense of a system that is failing or that has failed. It appears that such a failing may be because of a drive for power, coercive force and ideological and institutional might.
There is a sense of an awareness of past visual methods and style and a kind of visual quoting that allows “Layziehound” to acknowledge the play of history and perhaps the fact that the failings of the past cannot now be ignored and perhaps then not so easily transcended. Such commentary appears to be a general, global one and not only applied to the South African context.
Beyond the words and chatter, the policy-making and assertions of power, one gets a sense of a critical questioning of societal norms backed by strong drawing in charcoal and paint, as well as a sense of colour and brushwork.
I enjoyed the way the artist develops his themes via a kind of rushed brushwork, patterns and geometric lines that co-ordinate the more illustrative figures and backgrounds.
As the exhibition title suggests, “Layziehound” wishes to deduce that no individual or institution should be an arbiter of ethical rightness; there is no supreme human judge or position of sainthood.
In a sense, then, history is progressed via a dismantling of history. In other words, it is through a questioning of the system itself that the system moves forward. If such a critical stance is not possible or evident in a given society, then there is the risk of dictatorship and abuse of power. The institutions of the day, therefore are not iron clad nor held up by the authority of the Greek column and triumphant large spaces. A more human, intimate setting, one that does not dwarf the citizen, is perhaps called for. It is sure to be an exciting opening.
Exhibitions at ODA
slaves to our desires’
solo exhibition, 28 Oct to 23 Nov 2017