Her art is extremely potent, from layers, to light and even the chaos. It captivates and breathes intention from first sight, truly bringing you into her work. She wants her work to outgrow her vision and to bring you joy and draw you in, especially through digital platforms as distant as they can be. That’s why she’s on BROKE, her impact is felt from from city’s away and countries too. Introducing Amogelang Montjane otherwise known by her art tag A.Meemz
Photography: Fortune M. Digomo
By Audrey T. Nyamucherera
So Amo, how was your day?
It was really chilled, work hasn’t been hectic, yesterday was chilled my calendar was empty, so I was like bet, chilled at home did some stitching - this morning same thing. Then all of a sudden at 1 today I get a message saying urgent regroup, and I’m already in my zone but yeah did the regroup it wasn’t hectic, but I still have to do that work though. I’ll probably start the work in the morning. It’s not much, so I guess my day was still good, it was good. I chose myself, that’s the short answer.
Is the purpose of your art to beautify spaces, and make them come alive?
I like that, that’s beautiful, I don’t even think that’s a definition for my art but art in general, so I feel like if I can add to that thing, that’s a very beautiful thing, just like how I want some artists in my space. So that’s even them beautifying my space and I hope that’s what my art does in return.
Do you think the way you capture the work/art direct your shots creates an art gallery experience for your audience, because that’s what I interpret from your documenting?
I like that you say that because in a sense I do art direct it, in ways similar to like a campaign by way of making it emotive. I take all my pictures of my work in my house which I think is a great way to translate it to people who are looking at it and want to imagine it in their spaces. However gallery work is gallery work, like a sculpture…where would I put it, like a Lionel smith sculpture, I wouldn’t know where to put it here maybe (laughs), like where the mirror is. However yeah it’s a different way to access my art, with a touch of imagination to feel like it could be in your space right now.
How do you feel about featuring on BROKE, and just having this interview in general?
It feels a little surreal, because I think as someone who’s familiar with BROKE and just enjoy the brand, I have pride in the local scene, and it’s something I choose to invest in. Now to feature in something I really like is really cool, that investment is pouring back. It’s for something I really like doing so it feels incredibly significant.
Do you enjoy what you do or love what you do?
I love it. Okay, so I do two things, there’s work and the art. So I love work which I got into by mistake, I was like ayo I need to study something, this looks nice, they said you need to be creative, I’m like I think I can draw…I’m there with my pencils you know, at Varsity I’m like I’m gonna paint but then they made me think of concepts dawg… We had a course we had to take, intro to research, doing things I didn’t expect, like critical thinking. I didn’t expect it because I didn’t come from a creative background, no one is a creative where I come from so experiencing that was really cool, so the mistake really lead me to something great so uhm becoming the art director is one thing I do – working in advertising but it’s a lot, but I do love it, and the art part is my number 1 passion. I do it like how people love cooking or exercise it’s not something I even really think about. It’s natural organic and I just love my art easier too, it’s rarely a fight between the art and I.
So you mentioned something I’ve been curious of. Regarding your background you don’t come from a family of artists?
No I don’t come from family of artists per say but my granny was a seamstress she’d like make dresses, so somewhat granny was creative in a sense, by way of making dresses, but my sister is an engineer my mother is a social worker so I was the first one to be like bah, an artists but in a really real way. My brother once said to the family I want to be one of those people in the mall sketching people’s faces, as naturally that was the first reference but I’ve gone much bigger than that.
But did you know or have a sense you were this talented before?
No necessarily but one thing that’s always been apparent is that I always wanted to do things big so if I was painting on jackets id do a hundred or if I was doing a school project where I could paint, I’d do a whole mural, which didn’t always end up with the greatest outcome (laughs nervously) but big was always the theme and that’s still consistent in my art now. So I’ll do something big, a big piece, I’ll splash it more, or paint it more to see how far we can go and I think that’s a beautiful thing.
Is that why you use such bold detail in your work is it to create that larger than life feeling?
Yeah I definitely think so. In my art one thing I really try to focus on is contrast, so another thing I’m really fascinated by is realism and you can see that in my art over time. You can see that the details are really improving. I mean I once saw an artwork of an eye with incredible touches and you could even see what the person was looking at in the eye, and I was like “damn, that’s detail!” Like I really like that so realism is something I enjoy exploring and the idea of not being attached to things. My teacher once told us to never get too attached to it, because she once spilled turpentine on a painting and she liked it, we never saw pictures but in my head I could see how that might’ve come out.
Me going through the process of trying to make the artwork perfect is also me exploring perfection you know as the artist. Which doesn’t always come from straight lines but also from making a mess. So I think being able to make the mess helps me see beauty in the things that happens.
How would you describe your art, is it realism?
No not fully but I wish, I think it can look very realistic but…(Tshego inputs: “It can be.”). Yeah it can be realistic, I try find ways to approach realism, so I may try pointillism, like that piece over there. A bunch of dots forming a figure, and I mean it looks like a real person so sure, but that’s a hard title I have putting on my work, because I look at realism like damn. “Like a super realistic relist on some purr, is like classical, Picasso level” and I don’t know if my art will ever reach that level, with light reflecting on the subject from every point which makes it truly passionate and real. Plus I don’t know if I ever plan on investing that much time to reach that level. I don’t know what level of realism my art is but all I know is its really powerful.
What inspires your work?
So being out of control is a beautiful narrative to explore, like just pouring my paint and opening up the possibilities of what can be created. Pouring it all over may make your piece come out bold, but you need to detach yourself from what the work was before. Like the one behind us was really dope and clean you could see the eye and the lip detail much better before, and I never told anyone but I actually really liked the way it looked before but you just have to detach yourself. Sometimes I let my friends participate, I’ll ask Tshego to do this part and that and that’s part of the process. Paint everywhere y’all. Practice being detached from your work.
Is part of your detachment process sort of embracing how it’ll look in different spaces?
Yeah like how does art look in a park, or on a spoon, like in really abstract and disruptive spaces, I think to experience art in unconventional formats, could be incredible to see. We need to put it in front of the people without concern about how it may get destroyed but rather enjoyed.
What’s your obsession with local branded T’s?
So I’ve got this obsession with pop-art, and I thought about the theory behind it, like with Andy Warhols work, I loved the idea of having my artwork in many spaces at the same time, creating a pop-culture type-beat around it. So seeing how Andy Warhol did his work strongly resonated with graphic design for me and I think local T’s are getting in the space where their bold statements (the local brands) actually carry meaning. I also think that aligns to pop-culture. The being local also makes it better for me, I get my local Ts and having them in a sequence won’t just be something to have but something to appreciate. I’m kind of obsessed with the art direction too and ultimately how it becomes part of society, being one of these people in a BROKE or GOOD GOOD shirt and contributing to pop-culture.
In 2019 you shared a piece called koko, called Functional art and you said you were working on a formula to release T’S did you?
Yoh those, I don’t know if we’ll get those again, but, and I actually made them and used them as my business cards. We had them at showcase and made 50, I had a whole stand, I made beanies, spotties, had amakipkip, de’chappies, sweatie, you know, I won’t lie I went hard. Even the ACTUAL business cards had a KOMBA type (taxi sign) font that I created myself.
When you’re not painting or sketching what other outlets do you engage in?
So I like sewing, sometimes, like just stuff, you know, I made a shirt the other day and im trying to make a balaclava now. Uhm so ja I like cooking, it’s really dope, I just love exploring stuff you know, I like to skate too but still learning and I’m learning Piano too. However skating is crazy to me, I never thought I could do that but now that I can that’s crazy to me, because I skate and I move, and im not falling you know, then theres piano and I actually know what’s going on it makes sense…
Why did you give yourself the 2 year deadline to make it as a successful visual artist who lives strictly by living off her art?
Okay it was 5 years right, Im a big fan of doing what you want everyday and I really like how that can be a real thing for me, and I like that I never had a reality that forced me to be anything but what I wanted to be. So I think that is something I’m grateful for. So when I told my mom ayo I want to be an artist, she was like okay and took me to VEGA and she was like okay cool. So there were always moments that allowed me to be me and that’s what I’m grateful for and so tshego told me I could cut down my 5 years by a half which Tshego constantly helps me do by pushing me so I pushed myself whether it’s by time or socializing but yeah I cut it because I want to be able to do what makes me fully happy in two years time . Plus I just love easier.
What is the final vision for your art?
The final vision is to have none of it, I want it in spaces that aren’t y own, for them to become bigger than what they are in the spaces they were created in. Be it a museum, a park, T-SHIRT, multiple T-shirts, whatever the art is on will be bigger and greater and yeah that’s my goal for my art to be bigger than itself.