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Nadeen Southgate

 Nadeen Southgate is an amateur artist from Cape Town, South Africa. He is a professional software engineer who loves spending time creating in his spare time. He loves creating art depicting his African-ism using strong lines and patterns in combination with bold colours. He expresses himself using mainly traditional mediums like inks and acrylics. He aims to express his unique voice to the world and leave a lasting impact to those who experience his art.

Nadeen Southgate

What’s your artistic background?
As a child, I spent a lot of my time drawing and when I completed high school, I contemplated the idea of pursuing art as a career but then decided against it and went to university studying Computer Science and ended up as a software engineer, putting my art on hold for many years. A year or so ago with the global lockdown, I started spending more time doodling to pass the time and then produced a few pieces of art and posted it to Instagram and the rest as they say, is history. I have no formal training in art and do it because I really enjoy it.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?
I believe that art is an expression of your experiences and a manifestation of who you are as a person. Staying true to your intentions as an artist is key and remembering why you do it is more important than what you do. Some advice to anyone who has an interest in expressing themselves through art is that sharing is what it’s all about. The world deserves to hear your voice because you have no idea what positivity it will bring to someone out there. It also adds to the legacy you leave behind when you are no longer on this planet, which is a beautiful thing.

What role does the artist have in society?
Since we all have different beliefs and experiences, art provides the world with a unique perspective on things, and it allows others to see the world through your lens. Art has been a part of society since the beginning of humanity and allowed us to see the struggles, beauty and reality of the people at that time. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and because of this art transcends language and provides us with a way to communicate and understand each other.

What art do you most identify with?
Visual art using traditional mediums has always been something I enjoyed and appreciated the most. With respect to style, I always found simplicity, contrast, and vibrant colours most appealing because stepping away from reality allows for expressing beyond the confines of what is real.

What themes do you pursue?
As a proud South African and having experienced other cultures around the world through travel, it has made me appreciate my home and the African continent. This has resulted in the warm and vibrant colour pallets I choose to use as well as the subjects and emotions that I express through my art. When I look at a subject, I remove everything that I deem irrelevant and convert the natural lines and forms into patterns and bursts of vibrant colour to accentuate its emotion.

What’s your favourite artwork?
I really enjoy art that has a sense of freedom to it. Art that doesn’t take itself too seriously but tries to convey a message or emotion. George Condo’s Internal Riot is a piece that I am drawn to and appreciate because of it’s freedom and flow as well as it’s bold colours. It expresses to me a sense of internal emotional turmoil due to the separation and isolation experienced during the lock down due to the pandemic.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
During these trying times because of the global pandemic a deep urge prompted me to re-explore my artistic side which provided me with an outlet to express myself when social interaction was forbidden. As bad as this situation was artistic expression was the way I dealt with things and I am grateful for the positive and inspirational outcome of a negative situation.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I am not a professional artist, yet, but maybe someday I would be able to pursue art as a full-time career but let’s see what happens. I am currently a software engineer by profession and have been for the past 16 years or so. Art gives me a bit of a reprieve from the analytical demands of building software and provides me with another outlet to express myself as a person.

Why art?
Art has always been something that has come naturally for me, providing me with a way to relax, focus and express the thoughts in my mind. There is nothing better than sitting down and spending hours pouring your heart out on a piece of paper. The other side is the appreciation of other artist’s work, as an artist you understand that whatever someone else produced is from the heart and his/her unique perspective. Because art is subjective, it allows you to deduce meaning for yourself no matter what the intentions and thoughts of the artist were when the piece was created. There is always something to learn in others’ work either from an executional or emotional point of view.

What is an artistic outlook on life?
The world is a complex and beautiful place with so much to experience and learn. The key for me is to find ways to translate and accentuate the subtleties of life and to encapsulate it into something that can be appreciated and enjoyed by others.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?
In the short time that I’ve posted my art, I’ve received quite a bit of support for my work beyond what I could have imagined. I do not recall a specific response that impacted me, but I have gotten responses that created a sense of affirmation and understanding of what I was trying to portray in a piece.

What food, drink, song inspires you?
As a person who loves to analyse and find meaning and emotion is everything I see hear or taste, boldness and simplicity is what excites me the most. Indian food has always been a favourite of mine due to the boldness of the flavours and the spiciness which excited my taste buds.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
For me personally, having put my work out there and bringing joy to others has been awesome and it has not created a sense of loneliness for me because when I am producing my pieces, I get to be alone, totally focused on what I am doing.

What do you dislike about the art world?
I think that art is for everyone and by everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. The perception is that you must be super talented in drawing or painting to express yourself and to be appreciated as an artist, but this is so untrue, so for those who think that they are the gatekeepers of art, let it go.

What do you dislike about your work?
One of my aims as an artist is to portray more freedom in my work but not being too uptight with my line execution. Finding the confidence to not be too rigid is something I am working on but with time and practice, I will be able to be more expressive with my line selections.

What do you like about your work?
I really enjoy bold colours in combination with earth tones and the interaction of the black lines to frame my colour choices.

Should art be funded?
Yes, 100%, art should be funded. Art plays a fundamental role in society in both the time it was created and for the future of humanity. Telling the stories of the past and the present is of utmost importance and should be supported by the public and private sectors.

What role does arts funding have?
I think that if art were to be funded more, it would make it more accessible to those who see an art career as a struggle and provide the foundation for a new wave of expression which would have otherwise been lost. With the increased exposure to the arts, I believe that we would see a progression of other disciplines because the impact of expressing yourself creatively will boost your academic output and abilities. Balance is what it’s all about and exercising your left and right brain can only have positive outcomes in the long run, for yourself as well as society.

What is your dream project?
I do not have a dream project in mind but for me, the journey is where I find the most joy. Wherever this path leads me all I hope is that the destination is meaningful and impactful.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
The works of George Condo and Jean-Michel Basquiat is very inspirational for me and what I enjoy about their work is that it is impactful and voices their opinions and a personal perspective of their reality. The freedom of their lines is something I would like to emulate but being compared to anyone else is not something I strive for. I would like to be seen as unique and an inspiration for others to pursue their own path and make their voices heard in their own special way.

Favourite or most inspirational place?
Coming from a cosmopolitan African city like Cape Town, the diversity of people and culture has always been something I appreciate and love. Having visited New York City and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), I got to experience a wide selection of expressive and inspiring works of art all under one roof. I remember seeing things that I would not have identified as art, but that experience opened my eyes to what art really is and broke down the boundaries in my own mind to what art can and should be.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Someone once told me that the why is more important than the what. The intention of your actions shines through what you do and what you put out in this world. I apply this concept to my daily life as well as the art that I produce. I live in the moment and find solace in the fact that if the reason I do something is pure and true to myself, it will bear the fruits in the future even if I will never get to see it myself.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I haven’t really thought further than just making art for me and sharing it with the world.

Future plans?
All I want to do is create art and share it with the world, where which takes me is anyone’s guess. My intention is not to become rich or famous; all I want is to invoke emotion in those who experience my work and to bring a bit of a reprieve from the struggles of life. Leaving a positive impact and legacy on this planet after I am gone is where it’s at for me.




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