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In the beginning there was Jason, and Jason was with portraiture, and portraiture was Jason

 In the beginning there was Jason, and Jason was with portraiture, and portraiture was Jason
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Jason Langa’s voice in the eyes of sitters

Johannesburg South-based visual artist Jason Langa’s work speaks on his behalf. It non-verbally gives a detailed account of why his voice is perched on the pupils of his sitters’ eyes. It reveals who his heart creates for. We had the privilege of seeing his creativity and art through his own eyes. Jason sees in women what he sees in himself, softness and delicacy. His softness and delicacy are not instilled in him like a feather. They are not light enough to disappear with the wind. His gentleness is soothing. It cleanses and restores. And it is from their conversations and relationships with women that their benevolence comes. There are three women in whom their humility abides. These women are gentle in our cleanse and restoration, like bodies of water that are soft enough to give us life. They were named after the Kwanzaa principle, Kuumba, and bring Jason’s voice to life through their graphite and acrylic eyes on fabriano.

Kuumba
graphite and acrylic on fabriano
2020

Jason expresses that he is ‘not a person of many words’, but is understood in one. This word is the Swahili word for creativity. It is Kuumba. From this Kwanzaa principle and the reason why the Earth is more than just water, fire, earth and air, we grasp that Jason lives to breathe life. He does as much as he can, in the way he can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it. Kuumba leaves our community more beautiful and beneficial through the message it conveys. Jason did as much as he could, in the way he could, to relay that ‘we need each other as creatives and humans in general’. The eyes of the Kuumba sitters are his narrators.

Unititled 1
oil on canvas
2021

In the beginning there was Jason, and Jason was with portraiture, and portraiture was Jason. Faces and the expressions that they emanate capture their moments of emotions and everything sound cannot do for their expression. And it is through their kinship with photographs of women that they conceive their creations. It is because of love that this relationship survives; he spends hours with photographed portraiture. He searches and looks for something within her face that his hands can mold into a story. ‘When I am creating, I am not thinking. I am feeling’; we see his heart in his work. We will write it again, it is because of love that this relationship survives. What comes from his kinship with photographs of his sitters is the result of his soul penning the narration and his hands birthing that narrative in the way it should be.

 

Tshedza Mashamba