“I just really love his eclectic use of found objects and almost silly, whimsical yet enormously interesting Steampunk type designs. His face was one of those I knew I just had to express myself in, to show the beauty, strength and simplicity of idea withmaximal impact,” says South African painter Lioda Conrad about artist Cyrus Nganga Kabiru and her portrait paintings of him that include his unusual eyewear.
“It’s with Kenyan artist Cyrus that I started with the idea of a collection of African artistswho are shaping the future of Africa as an emerging artistic force du jour. I am currently in search of more inspiring African artists to add to my portraiture, which is an exhibition I am working towards next year.“
“I choose every face I do very carefully,” Lioda says. “I know immediately when I look at a face that it is one I want to bring to life and express myself with. I paint what feels right. I want to highlight not only the “unknown Africa” via my realistic haunting African faces,” another style of portraiture she works in, “but also the people who are trying as hard as I do to make a difference and create beauty in the world and who’s ideology align with mine, that art, beauty and the pursuit thereof is important and life affirming.”
Another subject of her expressionistic portrait series, Chellah Tukuta Rancen, is a photographer based in Zambia. Lioda Conrad describes him as “an interesting person passionate about his work, that crosses over from fashion photography to artistic photography. His insight into life is both child-like, and wise… He and I have talked and exchanged ideas regarding imagery. We collaborated on the idea of putting his high fashion young models against older, traditionally dressed people to show some of the generational differences and cultural development.”
“Chellah has become a very successfully photographer and has undertaken and created the most beautiful imagery. But all in all, he has the biggest smile, works so hard at what he does and impressed me as someone who should become an “expression” of mine.”
Lioda Conrad selected Durban sculptor Nhlakanipho Ndimande as one of her subjects. Pictured below is the sculptor in his studio.
Lioda Conrad says of her process and techniques in creating her portraits of these artists, “I realize one thing and it forms a big part of the work. All of the emerging artists, I call The African Crysalists, I paint each one in a style that is representational of them or their works. As with Chellah, his photography is often in soft diffused light and so his portrait has the same quality to it. Cyrus’ work, his glasses as well as his own face has a very angular and pointed look to it, so the brush strokes of his portraits has sharper, clearer and more angular lines. With the artist Nhlakanipho, his sculptures are often made with a stone compound and are far rougher and heavier in style and feel, thus his portrait is done with broader strokes and more impasto work to it.”
Artist Benon Lutaaya, who is one of Africa’s most publicized and sought after contemporary artists, and recently featured in the ART-MOVIE-BOOK, is the subject of Lioda Conrad’s mixed media portrait on paper.
If you’d like to find out more about Lioda Conrad and view images of her realistic and expressionistic portraits, you can connect with her