Art brightens commuters' day

21 November 2012

As with its stations on its first trunk route, Rea Vaya has commissioned arresting art to add visual value to the stations on the second trunk route.


MFUNDO Ketye is one of several up-and-coming artists who have turned the daily commute from Soweto into town into an artistic adventure. Ketye and his colleagues have created artworks for the stations along Rea Vaya's second trunk route, which runs from the township to Parktown.


His eye-catching work, iWashing, adorns the walls of the Bunting Road station, opposite the SABC. Ketye was chosen to produce a work for the station after an open call for artists in Johannesburg to submit work for consideration, was made by a committee from the City's arts, culture and heritage department.


It is a vibrant representation of four women doing their washing, and is an example of how an ordinary activity can be made extraordinary through art and vision. The piece has been described as being able to "brighten any commuter's day" and while his preference for colour is notable, his art is not limited by boundaries. Ketye explains: "Most of my paintings have bright colours, but when it comes to my sculptures, I prefer them to be as natural as possible."


iWashing represents the artist's early fascination with watching people as they washed clothes and noting the differences between classes. Ketye speaks of a new trend in the townships: the Skhothanes are a new sub-culture among township youth, who are known to wear the most expensive clothes and drink the most expensive alcohol. In this way, "showing off" has become a means to establish class within the townships.


"Kasi people will strive to wear the most expensive brands, while the economically free class prefer the lesser expensive brands, therefore maximising their budgets," Ketye says. His work explores these class differences, and he is especially intrigued by those individuals who wash for a special occasion. For him, this act shows people equating cleanliness with a positive social standing.


Surprisingly, the artist initially hoped to be a civil engineer but inspired by his father, Duke Ketye, whom he praises as a "prolific artist himself", he decided to follow in his footsteps. While his father and his hometown of Soweto, rich in culture and history, have aided the development of his art, Ketye attributes his inspiration to human anatomy, lifestyle and wildlife.


At present, he is working on a project for the Johannesburg Property Company, another municipal-owned entity. It is facilitated by The Library, a company that focuses on the collaboration of public design projects which include the conceptualisation of ideas, curation, design, allocating of public art, as well as the implementation of heritage and educational exhibits.


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