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Artist Profile – Meet Artist, Curator and Scholar Philiswa Lila
Published 4 months ago by

Lila explores different mediums to create her artworks including animal skin (sheep, goat and cow), beading, wood, paper, canvas and video. 

With a B Tech in Fine and Applied Art, an Honours degree in Curatorship and currently pursuing a Masters in Art History at Rhodes University, Philiswa Lila is an artist, curator and scholar fascinated by the socially relevant and timely issues of authorship and agency.   

Born in Mthatha in the Eastern CapeSouth Africa, Lila works across disciplines like painting, installation and performance art.  

Her interests lie in memory histories and theories of personal identities. 

READ: Artist Profile – Meet Visual Artist Billie Zangewa

Ityali (Enamabala).

Artist to watch

In 2019, Lila completed a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France after winning the prestigious Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award in 2018.  

Lila’s winning artwork of beads and wood, Self-Titledis part of a series entitled Self-Portraits. The series relates to her name, Philiswa, meaning ‘be healed.’  

Umcimbi 2.

She said after winning“I use this name to explore the nuances of language, meaning and experiences of individualism. A name of a person carries with it different narratives in relation to their surroundings.  

“I feel really excited and grateful after receiving the Gerard Sekoto Award. It’s an important award for any young artist and I plan to use this opportunity to explore more of my art making, research and writing experience. 

South African artist Gerard Sekoto (1913-1993) spent 40 years in France in voluntary exile from apartheid. He was a painter, musician and composer. 

In the same year Dr Esther Mahlangu selected Lila as her ‘artist to watch’ for the 2019 SEED auction. 

In 2020, the Absa Gallery hosted her well received solo exhibition titled ‘Skin, Bone, Fire: The First Album’ which will then tour to various venues in South Africa in association with Alliance Francaise. 

READ: Artist Profile – Meet Ceramicist Duma Mtimkulu

Philiswa explores different mediums to create her artworks including animal skin (sheep, goat and cow), beading, wood, paper, canvas and video.  

Saint Afrika.

Many of her techniques are linked to forms that will fit bodies or the recording of stories using bodies as archives and traces of personal experiences.  

She is also influenced by the nuances of language, meaning and experiences of individualism. 

Some of her ongoing projects explore individual experiences as recognizable or familiar narratives to collective frameworks of culture – mainly in isiXhosa but also aware of the interconnectedness of cultures in South Africa. 

See more of her works here. 

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