Born in 1981 in Molteno, Eastern Cape Asanda Kupa is one of South Africa’s contemporary artists to collect.
Kupa currently lives in Johannesburg, and frequently returns to his childhood home in Molteno. He holds an NDip in Fine Art from Walter Sisulu University and a BTech degree from Tshwane University of Technology. Between 2009 and 2011, he resurrected the Molteno Museum and was the recipient of both the Ann Bryant Young Artist of the Year award (2010), and the Reinhold Cassirer Award (2013). His work sits in a number of important South African collections, including The Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art and Nando’s.
Kupa’s work highlights notions of togetherness as Kupa often depicts groups and collectives of people all showing up for a common goal, whether it be in protests of injustices, or celebrations of joy. With titles such as “Intlangano yolonwabo” (The coming together of joy), “Crowds have names” and “Bembethe ingubo enye behamba indlela enya” (They are covered by the same blanket and walking the same path) Kupa articulates how so much can be achieved through coming together and an added reliance on one another. Kupa calls upon the African notion of Ubuntu, community, and commonality, to discuss pertinent social issues in works such as “Iqumrhu” (a caucus) and calls for elation and jubilation with respect to each other.
Often featured in Kupa’s artistic practice is the meticulous the manner in which he captures the black population struggles, protests, political instability, and failures of leaders to its people. Kupa’s work is at times inspired by the “The Marikana Massacre of 16 August 2012” as he continues to depict South Africa’s political history, reflecting the depth of economies of hope, hopelessness, power struggles, and popular protest. Concerned with the experiences of those forced to the periphery of ‘The New South Africa’ Kupa’s expressive use of oil paint as a medium depicts the emotional turmoil, chaos and struggles within the hierarchical society of South Africa.
When one looks at the works of Kupa, one gets a notion of the power of group economics which involves coming together consciously in pursuit of common economic interests to sustain and secure each other. As if there isn’t a better time for groups of people to come together to create spaces and sites of inclusivity and economic freedom for the previously disadvantaged in South Africa especially now with the collapsing of the economy. He calls for one and one to come together and stand for the many in attempts to reach better frontiers in the present and the future.