September 9, 2021
Curator interview: Nomaza Nongqunga Coupez
Four You Gallery X Nomaza Nongqunga Coupez
‘Phenomenology of a Black Woman’
FYG: Who is Nomaza Nongqunga Coupez?
NNC: I am a South African born in a small village called Ngqeleni, in the Eastern Region of South Africa.
I moved to France in 2009 and in 2017 I founded Undiscovered Canvas which is a boutique agency based on the French Riviera that promotes emerging artists from Southern Africa
FYG: How did you decide on the curatorial topic?
NNC: For this exhibition I wanted to us discuss the lived experiences of Black Women.
I wanted to provide the viewer an untainted lens through which they can gain an understanding of the interrelationship of race, class, gender and stratification from the perspectives and the existence of four black female artists living and working in South Africa and Nigeria.
I wanted to create a platform for black women to look more deeply into their own reality and, from that sharing in growing consciousness, a consciousness not only for themselves but the viewers as well.
FYG: Why did you decide to curate this show with Four You Gallery?
NNC: Because I am aligned with their vision of closing the gender inequality that continues to persist in the art world. We must not forget that only 11 % of all museum acquisitions between 2009 and 2019 were of female artists. Female artist works are still valued less than those of their male peers. The gap gets bigger when looking at black artists and even biggest when talking about black female artists. So it was a honor when Four You Gallery asked me curate an all black female exhibition for their market and clientele.
FYG: What inspires you ?
NNC: I am inspired by the Divine Feminine in all of Us, no matter the race! That energy in us that is nurturing, motherly energy, and affection. Its Beauty, sensuality, and attraction. Creativity and inspiration in their purest form. Peace and harmony.
The Divine Feminine within US is wild, free, and untamed. She ignores the unwritten rules and boundaries that society has constructed for her, rises above, and paves her own way. She is unafraid to speak her truth, embrace her sexual nature, and show up fully and authentically. She trusts her intuition, allowing it to guide her.
FYG: What is it in Claire Ideraworks that you find most intriguing?
NNC: How her works are a true representation of who she is now, how she is blooming into motherhood and simply Becoming! They are so honest, physical and yet so so spiritual.
FYG: Can you tell us more about Damilola Onosowobo’s painting?
NNC: Dami work reveals questions bordering on perceptions of reality and lived experiences. Her practice pulls together artistic configurations and reconceptualizes them within a modern cultural setting. Inspired by artists such as Njideka Akunyili Crosby and Anders Zorn, she does not see realism as an opportunity to imitate reality, rather she sees it as a vehicle to interpret her experiences.
FYG: How did you come across Lesego Seoketsa’s artistic practice?
NNC: Through a international competition she entered in London with Flight Logistics’ and I was a judge in the competition and I remember seeing her entry and thinking this Black South African women is super talented and I contacted her and we started working together, now Lesego moves easily between Photography, mixed media collage and paintings. But my God her paintings are something else! Had a collector from London who bought a painting from me which she saw on Instagram when she received the piece, she called me and said “Nomaza this is more beautiful that I thought, the thickness of the brush strokes and colors are so intense its hard to convey on a photo, she said In real life you want to trace the brush with your finger!
FYG: How did you meet Muofhe Manavhela?
NNC: I was strolling on Instagram when a painting pop up, it was her work called Madona and Child, now Madona was a black women with her breast sticking out and her eyes looking at the viewer, it was magical! Because this black Madona was so so sexual, and I had been looking for an emerging artists to show black women in this manner. Moefhe deconstruct negative narratives surrounding black women through visually articulating themes of sexuality, gender, race and the body.
This is so important especially today, as the black women has been made to hate her features, her skin color, her hair, big nose, big lips and big ass. And Muofhe is saying these features are exactly where they need to be and they are exquisite, sensual and beautiful!
FYG: what is your conviction in life?
NNC: My biggest conviction is that, on top of Gold, Diamonds and Minerals our culture and heritage has the potential to be our biggest commodity in Africa! We simply need to invest in it! We might not see it as being precious maybe because unlike the others, we don’t need to dig, drill to get to it! Is in abundance and its everywhere! From the languages we speak, our expressions through our hair, how we cook, serve food, and even how we enjoy it. How we build our homes, decorate them and how we even clean them, how we expression our energies through fashion and music. Its everywhere that we have lost track of how precious it is.
It has the potential to create riches for our people and in the long run generational wealth! I have this conviction because this is already a reality for others, like the Europeans so what can’t it be a reality for US Africans ?