Q&A: Seth “African Ginger” Pimentel’s new Basha Uhuru mural for the youth

Growth Mural

Ahead of Basha Uhuru, kicking off on 26 June, Seth Pimentel, otherwise known as African Ginger, talks me through the creative process of the mural he recently created for the festival. Painted on a wall at Constitution Hill, the home of the festival, the mural – sponsored by Business Art South Africa – is a tribute to 25 years of creative freedom and features an abstract figure that is a textural design of green and dark hues, figurative and abstract – in true African Ginger style – and is aptly titled ‘Growth’ as it engages the growth of South Africa’s youth.

For someone who has never heard of you before, who are you and what do you do for a living? I guess I would say that I am Seth Pimentel, someone who draws stuff for a living.

How would you best describe the form of art you create? My form is a blend of traditional and digital mediums. Experimenting with the human form and trying to convey emotion through texture and shape within said form – to stray away from convention.

You created a mural for this year’s Basha Uhuru Freedom Festival. Can you talk us through the story behind it? The mural is about growth; growth within the youth. We have transcended quite a bit in the space of 25 years, post-apartheid. We are pushing and questioning all forms of structure before us and dismantling these systems of control. As a youth, we’ve become so consciously and spiritually aware of our influences and environment, and actively taking charge in making these things change. I tried to convey that sense of transcendence in the most literal and non-conceptual way, by creating the visual link of growth manifested in nature (plants) in a very simplistic, and deconstructed manner. Dissecting the human and plant form. When you do street art, there’s a balance one must find. The work should be thought-provoking, yet not too over the top. The meaning sometimes gets lost in translation when one overthinks it.

What have been the fun and difficult bits of preparing for the mural? The fun parts were going with the flow, having the idea on paper and just letting the piece create itself. That conversation between myself and the wall was the best part. The tough bit was choosing colors.

How do you find mural creation in terms of materiality/texture? Is it different to how you normally make art? Murals are so different to working on canvas or photoshop or paper. It’s this colossal external force that you consciously converse with. Measuring and plotting base sketches, knowing that spray cans could create an effect better than working with a paintbrush because of the coarse texture of the wall – or knowing that the sunlight will hit the wall at a certain time, so trying to cover as much as you can before then. All these external and internal forces clash.

As a young black man living in post-apartheid South Africa, what does us marking 25 years of democracy mean to you? I know I should be more conscious of the political aspects of the world, it plays one of the biggest roles in defining the society I reside in. But I don’t think I was meant to be defined by the society I reside in but rather by the choices I make. Democracy to me is the freedom and systematic support one has in defining their future.

With that said, where would you like to see South Africa in the next five years? Do you think there are any important conversations we should be having as the youth to improve the current state of our country? South Africa is unparalleled with its beauty, intellect, and hospitality. Right now, we’re making the right choices in trying to aid each other. Growth is futile without the process of giving love. We’re aware of that and we could be better, we just need to practice a little more humility and get rid of our ego.

Which artists are currently on your raider? Ndebele Superhero, Lunga Ntila, Mark Draws, Pola Maneli, Luca Boni, Hustle Wilson, Dirty Native, Fuzzy Slippers, Bale Logoabe, Bushywopp, Fok Alles, Tako Universe, Al Luke, the list is long.

This article was originally published on Basha Uhuru.