Digital art provides a creative space for everyone

Naledi Modupi, a South African digital artist, talks about taking inspiration from the women in her life and creating art for them to recognize their own beauty. The artist’s creative journey began at home, as her adoration for her own mother inspired her to start designing outfits for her at the age of six. Modupi’s maternal inspiration led to the artist’s fascination with the female face. The multidisciplinary artist uses semi-abstract techniques, vibrant colors and vivid shapes to restructure faces. Her designs are intricate and tastefully depict the many ways black beauty can manifest. Using her art to encourage confidence and joy in those who see themselves in it, Modupi’s series of artworks gave space to the many facets of black women that the world often tries to diminish. She talks about understanding the spaces black women are creating for themselves and the intentional growth the pandemic has brought.

Dwrite about your journey as an artist and the journey you took to get to where it is today.

My first memory of making my art was when I was designing outfits for my mother. I like the kind of woman my mother is; the way she carries herself, her character, her strength and her gentleness. But, as a young girl, I was obsessed with her style. I was drawing outfits for her, in my attempt to get ideas of who she was or what she looked like. I’m sure they weren’t that good, but I vividly remember my love for designing clothes, around the age of six or seven.

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Creating art has always been part of my growth as a child. I was a clumsy and shy child and had difficulty expressing myself through speech. It still frustrated me so much. I allowed art to become my way of life, connecting with friends, family and myself. My approach to exploring and representing different techniques and styles in my later years has also allowed me to find ways to use my art to help people connect with each other.

My journey has been very organic, influenced by the people around me, and their experiences have nurtured the curious being that I have always been. To some extent, I think my art has changed to become a very personal reflection of being blessed by these people and experiences, and never doubting or giving up on this gift. Recognizing and being intentional about these influences got me to where I am with my craft today.

Other works by Naledi Modupi

The works of Naledi Modupi

What are the central themes of your work?

My work is strongly inspired by the beauty and characteristics associated with women. Through her, I celebrate the unique and empowering stories of the women around me. My goal is to inspire confidence and awaken hope in those who are able to find their reflection in my pieces, just as I see myself in my work.

Central themes in my work explore my love for faces, especially the female face. I believe faces are able to tell a person’s story and experiences. The women I grew up with inspired my fascination and love for portraying and discovering these stories.

I’ve always been surrounded and intrigued by women from different backgrounds – I still don’t understand everything. In this sense, my art is a project or a study of who connects to what pieces and why. Almost an attempt to understand why women hold the positions they hold in society. But above all to get women to see themselves as I see them – bold, beautiful and exceptional!

How did you decide that “digital art” was your medium of choice?

Acrylic painting on canvas has always been a personal favorite; but it felt a bit burdensome and expensive, and I would still be unable to communicate exactly what I wanted. Although I always like to paint outside of digital art, I find that digital art allows an open creative space for everyone. It allows you to explore different techniques and styles of art. This allows more errors and therefore more learning. I feel like the digital world is huge and makes art able to reach and be accessible to many more people – whether you are a creator, a collector or just someone who appreciates art .

My journey and my presence in the digital world revealed to me an endless artistic journey of discovery. I constantly reveal parts of my creativity and my expression through the various digital software and digital spaces – hence my attachment and my constancy to the medium.

How has the pandemic affected you creatively?

The pandemic gave me time! It’s time to find and focus on the things and interests that matter to me. Before the pandemic, I think I wasn’t too clear about what or how I wanted to express those interests, beliefs, and values. During this period, I discovered the world of digital art. I have spent this time learning, exploring and sharing my work.

And for the first time in a long time, I could hear and see myself in my work. It gave me time to find my voice artistically.

Can you describe your artistic relationship with “afrofuturism”?

I believe that “Afrofuturism” is supposed to bring together a specific type of people within African culture, to be able to connect with each other, regardless of time, age or generation. I want my art to live across different time periods, and still be able to resonate and communicate topics around Black liberation, culture, and experiences – and that’s part of Afrofuturism.

Can you talk about your use of colors and jewelry in your art?

Color, abstract shapes, shapes, patterns and faces are what I really like. My relationship with colors and shapes forms the backbone of my work. The shapes and patterns usually suggest the idea of ​​jewelry – character and identity added to the face. I use these elements to create beauty!

For me, colors and jewelry are a vehicle to express or suggest a mood, a personality, feelings, or even a time and age – but above all joy and confidence.