Sindiso Nyoni, aka R!OT, is a Bulawayo native, who has undergone a forced exile to Johannesburg, his home for the last decade, where he is currently making serious waves in the art world. We talked a bit about his guerrilla art and asked him to comment on social issues – Words: Nadine Oosthuizen
1. CSA: Can we cheat a bit and start with you telling us a bit about your current state of mind: where you are, what you’re currently working on, books you’re reading, movies you’ve watched, what you can’t live without?
Sindiso Nyoni: Haha! I’m currently based in Johannesburg, working on a mix of things, art directing a festive ad campaign, illustrating a gig for a tech hub launch as well as illustrations for a Canadian published story book. I haven’t been doing a lot of reading, but I’m planning to start on Alain de Botton’s work soon. I’m still trying to see as many films in between the juggling and the last two I’ve really enjoyed were Beast of No Nation and Deadpool. I can’t live without bacon pancakes!
2. What is the funniest thing you’ve heard lately?
I’m obsessed with the memes on @FunnyPicsDepot on Twitter and mr.serious1 on Instagram. Also, check out Loyiso Madinga’s social networks, he’s the best.
3. What kind of setting do you feel most at ease in when creating?
I’m generally an adaptor and any setting works, due to my nomadic lifestyle preferences. I travel a lot so I’m not really restricted by surroundings. I created some of my best work while on a secluded island in Zanzibar, and also while living in the slums of Nairobi for some months. I’m an avid lover of music but sometimes opt to work without it, in silence, however when the mood arises the sound could range from Yoruba infused female vocalists to Ethio Jazz or ‘Stromae’ or ‘Staff Benda Bilili’.
4. What inspired the visual style of your work recently, and perhaps, you personally?
The black experience narratives- their resilience, tenacity, intelligence, and skill- not only on this continent but also globally.
5. Who has been the most influential artist to you personally?
6. What do you look for in art that makes art really speak to you?
Authenticity and honestly.
7. What would you say has been one of your favourite moments in your career?
Being able to inspire multitudes of young black art practitioners over the years. Across the various disciplines.
8. How do you feel about the business of art?
We still have a long way to go. ‘Exposure’ and ‘work for free’ are still common terms thrown around those parts. Gatekeepers, cliques and exclusivity are still barriers and hurdles to overcome.
9. Creativity: Enhanced or diminished by limitation?
More like annihilated!
10. Will change ever come?
Once the individual realises their role, responsibility and power in adding value to and shaping societies and lives, yes.