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Something has Changed in Me

by Ashleigh Denton, images by Adam Kent Wiest and Mafuta Ink / 01.11.2010

Fuzzy Slipperz seems like a silly name for an artist, but don’t let that fool you. Lisolomzi Pikoli, his mom’s name for him, is remarkably accomplished for a 21 year old, blending traditional African expressionist figures with street art techniques to produce unique contemporary hybrids. He’s also an MC that goes by the name Voicetag. Tonight his bubbly attitude resonates around the 38 Special Art Gallery walls, where his first solo exhibition Something Has Changed in Me has been displayed for the past month. It’s the closing night, he stands back to reflect.

Fuzzy: I’ve always been involved in art, ever since I was a kid. I went to an art school. I was really into graffiti when I left high school and later on it morphed into street style and low-brow stuff, so my paintings feature a lot of that, it’s not one specific thing.

Mahala: What is the concept behind the exhibition?

For me it has a lot to do with growth or the lack of it. There are always two sides. But what is it saying to you?

I get a feeling of euphoria from the pictures. I’m interested in why it looks like they’re falling or floating. I like how the picture is an interpretation of the writing and the title of the art work.

Fuzzy: Yeah, you’ve hit the nail on the head. But don’t get pressured by the name of the exhibition and what gets said on the works, it doesn’t have to be the meaning for it. The flowers and trees in their stomach symbolizes a sense of growth and the different stages. It interprets different angles of human emotion. Often I am working in the middle of the night, when I’m tired and everything is silent and I’m listening to chilled music, so I think that state of mind comes out in my paintings.

Fuzzy Slippers

How did you come to painting on skateboards and creating the backpacks with your art on them? Are you a skater?

Ya, I can’t say that I’m a real skater, but I like it. We have an exhibition we do once a year called Home for Broken Skateboards and it’s my kind of style, it’s a cool influence, the low brow art movement and street art, I’m into that kind of stuff. The bags specifically are one of the coolest things I’ve ever done! It was a collaboration with a girl named Danielle Clough who makes Plush toys and she took photographs for Three Stories during the World Cup, which is where I met her. Nolan Dennis and I came up with the initial idea of the bags last year but we just didn’t have the know-how and Danielle was the perfect person to work with and we came up with this idea, and look, dude, how amazing!

When do they come out on sale?

In December we’re gonna come out with a shop type of thing where we’ll be selling the bags to the people. I’ve been surrounded by some really good people this year. Nolan moved back to Joburg and although we keep Mafuta Ink alive through the website, he’s got his blog and I’ve got mine. This year was quite a big shift for me because I was living alone and making a lot of mistakes so this whole thing was to help me try to figure out what the fuck I’m doing and when I’m gonna grow up. I’m a 21 year old knuckle head, to actually pull something like this off takes a lot of people. I’ve had my close friends and I’ve met some really great creative people who helped me. Also my friend Pamala who is coming out with her own shoe label and my bother too, we often share links and ideas with each other.

So you’re surrounded by artists?

Yeah. I’m a selective creative, but really I’m no one without anyone else.

“Only in you I become”

If you say Ubuntu we’re gonna have to stop this right here!

Your work has been on display for a month now, what kind of response have you gotten from the public? Has it been successful?

The response has been great hey, fuck! I’ve sold 70 percent of my work, 60 percent just on the opening night which was very humbling! This is the first solo project I’ve done and the response has been great, I didn’t expect to be so successful.

How did you come to exhibit at 38 Special?

Me and a couple of buddies were hanging around and one of their managers approached me to organize a live painting thing where me and some other artists drew on the walls. Then the ownership changed hands and they painted over everything but Derek, the new owner, dug my painting and he decided he wanted to turn this into a proper gallery space.

Fuzzy Slippers

What has been the most satisfying part of this experience?

Just knowing that I can do something like this; finding my path. I’ve always known that I was going to be an artist, I’ve wanted this all my life, but I’ve never exhibited before. I’ve always been more of an illustrator and a designer so this was quite a challenge for me and I really had to cut everyone off and become friends with myself to get this done. Sometimes I went fucking nuts ‘cause I had an idea. Like, it was there but it wasn’t materializing. So I was taking big steps and I’m really humbled that it’s gone so well. Shit, now I know I can do even bigger and better things.

What other creative projects are you involved in?

I started a little creative side note with my friend Nolan Dennis called Mafuta Ink. Both of us started off in the same place because we have been drawing together since we were in high school. So over the last two years we’ve been collaborating. We took the whole of last year off to focus on ourselves and make our work happen and we started Mafuta Ink. We made handmade books with our work in them, out of paper and stapling them together and we gave those out and tried selling them. And then we got the site up.

What do you plan on doing next?

Yeah man, a lot of Mafuta Ink stuff is coming up. As well as some of my own self indulgence. This exhibition was good, it was me venting and putting something out into the world but now I feel like I need to do something a bit bigger than me…

Any near future collaborations?

Yes, a lot. We want to grow old and say that we have something that we can call ours. And I don’t see myself getting a boss anytime soon; I’ll be my own boss. But my next solo exhibition won’t be for another two or three years.

How do you feel about the closing tonight?

Yeah-yer… Let’s get drunk!

Is that how you plan on celebrating?

Yeah, get drunk, give everyone high-fives, hugs and kisses. What comes after that? Mavericks! [It’s just around the corner.

Do you think you’ll have that “now what?” feeling when you wake up tomorrow?

No, I’ve got so much exciting work to do. But I think there will always be a piece of me in here.

Fuzzy Slippers

Fuzzy Slippers

Fuzzy Slippers

*Check out Mafuta Ink to view more of Fuzzy’s art work.

**Opening image © Adam Kent Wiest.

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