Art is a form of documenting time - photographs; sculptures, drawings all have a story to tell.  Art captures the moments; the emotions and the issues of each generation – a snapshot of our world or the artists’ expression of that world. Mashumi Art Projects is about weaving a tapestry that involves the artists, their artwork and you the buyer who becomes the keeper of a piece of time, history and today’s African creativity.

Our clientele are people who are mainly curious lovers of art who want to understand the form of art and the importance of it.  As much as MAP celebrates the beauty; authenticity and uniqueness of every artist – we also immerse ourselves in the importance of understanding what kind of message the work is communicating; what does it mean for Africans?  Too often we don’t look at how we depict ourselves through art; and how we are depicted.  Founder Zanele Mashumi, realized as a young artist that a lot of the work that we see generally doesn’t reflect or imitate who we are.  Thankfully, more of today’s artists are producing work that reflects their view of the world rather than what is considered popular or aesthetically beautiful.  There is no permission; no script that tells you how to depict Africa – it’s liberating and I’m very excited about the time we are documenting!

So we don’t just sell art at MAP – it’s an exciting journey of educating our clientele about art and what it means – over and above an investment in art.  We want you to know and understand what it is that you are ‘archiving’ as a collector of artwork that moved you.  We want our clientele to enjoy their art beyond simply mounting it.  Art allows for reflection over time – when you think back to why you wanted to buy the piece; what was happening in your life; all these details make your art part of your life story.  We’re currently moving into a digital age that will bring new meaning of artwork over time.  Soon like previous generations, there will be things; habits; brands; products and services that will disappear.  Today’s artist has an exciting challenge to capture the evolution of our times.  

As an artist, from the time Zanele started the business – it was simply about exhibiting artwork because she knew the blockages and challenges artists have simply sharing our work.  She needed to create a space for artists so the vulnerability of trying to fit in could be removed – and artists can honestly and freely create; document; imagine; reflect and amaze us with their work.  

Today the business has evolved to the next phase where MAP is focused on archiving our art history.  A large chunk of our African art was stolen and remains in galleries around the world.  Our African creativity and culture is scattered but we as today’s African artists contribute to a limitless African art legacy.  We are documenting our people; our lives; our culture; and our existence.  Culture and art cannot be separated.  When people separate the art work from the culture they deny themselves the depth of creativity and who we are as Africans.  Without ignoring other forms of art; MAP wants to give our children an opportunity to experience the pride and joy of celebrating our artists and for them to understand intricately why the artists did that work; what inspired them; what they are communicating and why the artwork is an important piece of art.  We want to document and archive black art without separating the art from the artist and make it accessible to our clientele from first time buyers to more astute and experienced buyers.  

Written by Nombulelo Njumbuxa

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