Greatjoy Ndlovu
Greatjoy Ndlovu's The Victim 2 and The Believer, both charcoal and acrylic on canvas, in a setting featuring the latest contemporary furnishings and designs by Head Interiors

ELLE Decoration chats to Zimbabwean-born artist Greatjoy Ndlovu whose work is currently being exhibited at the Head Interiors showroom in Johannesburg. 

Hailing from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, Greatjoy Ndlovu is a largely self-taught artist working from Johannesburg’s August House Studio. His work and post-expressionist style is increasingly gaining attention both in South Africa and abroad.

Design firm Head Interiors’ co-founders Michael Harrison and Sharon Fihrer, who have a passion for supporting emerging artists, invited Ndlovu to create a new body of work for exhibit in their Hyde Park showroom. Michael Harrison, Head Interiors co-founder, explains that connection between art and interiors:

“Details are what define the interior of a home, and we have long understood how paramount art is to instil joy and personality into a space. The sheer complexity of Greatjoy’s works command attention, and by placing his work in this environ allows art patrons (who are ultimately also home owners) to understand how these works can live within the intimacy of a home.”

Continuing Ndlovu’s focus on portraiture and figurative themes, the 15 works in oils and acrylics sees the introduction of colour and female subjects, enabling the viewer to gain insight into Greatjoy’s thoughts while provoking dialogue around the weighty subject matter.

Greatjoy Ndlovu
Greatjoy Ndlovu with Head Interiors founders Sharon Fihrer and Michael Harrison

Greatjoy, your latest body of work “Somewhere in SA” is now on exhibit at Head Interiors, can you please tell us a bit about the work and why you chose the title?

I wanted create a fresh body of work with depth, to tell modern stories which I witness in my surroundings every day. I wanted my subject matter to focus more on positivity and harmony through the use of primary colours. This series was a special treat to the audience based on how Head Interiors managed to curate the space.

Do you think exhibiting the work in a space like Head Interiors versus a traditional gallery space alters people’s perception or experience of the work?

There is an unspoken comfort within the art world, that art should break boundaries and teach. My experience from the collaboration with Head Interiors is that people do not mind being taught and lead. The exhibition says: “This could be your home” – and I feel that was a selfless move on both my side, and for the company. Tradition does not always lead to growth, I think this will lead to other unconventional collaborations.

greatjoy ndlovu
Greatjoy Ndlovu’s The Victim 3, a charcoal and acrylic on canvas featured in a setting featuring the latest contemporary furnishings and designs by Head Interiors

Your work reflects your experiences of the world, what is it about figures and the human form that has captured your imagination?

The very experience of living is conscious and subconscious, the unveiling of experiences of life help me add to the story of life and existence.

Have you gained any insights through this experience of marrying art and décor together?

I believe that art is personal in its very nature, the observation, appreciation and translation is based on the experiences of the viewer. The way people view the designs of their home follows the trend of art appreciation. Art and decor are almost inseparable, it’s through the experience of the exhibition that I was awakened to this thought.

greatjoy ndlovu
Greatjoy Ndlovu’s Breaking Away 4 and The Helper 1, both charcoal and acrylic on canvas, in a setting featuring the latest contemporary furnishings and designs by Head Interiors

What path did you follow in becoming an artist? What words of advice would you offer to a learner who is interested in pursuing art or a creative career?

I took art classes in my high school years, I had a deep belief in my art and identity. Formally I did not study art but I knew it was not big enough a reason to not pursue a career in art. I worked in the hospitality industry and I knew that it was not for me, not that there was anything wrong with it; I was just not at peace because I knew what my heart yearned for. My advice is to be real, seek that which gives you peace and adds to the truth of who you are.

Do you have a favourite décor or furniture piece in the Head Interiors showroom?

Well, one would be mistaken for assuming that is an easy question! Head Interiors really hosts the of the best in design and thus it is really difficult to decide. In their space, I become a kid in a candy store. I love company of those that are close to me and having them be comfortable. In light of that I would have to say it is the white couch that sits below “The Great Rapture” artwork. The couch is bold yet welcoming.

greatjoy ndlovu
Greatjoy Ndlovu’s The Rapture sits above The Sarah Sofa.

Greatjoy Ndlovu’s “Somewhere in South Africa” can be viewed at Head Interiors until November 10, 2018.

Read 10 Things To Know About Artist Lina Iris ViktorThe Divine Feminine: 5 South African Artists to Follow on Instagram or Karl Lagerfeld Debuts a Series of Functional Sculptures next.