Asanda Kupa’s story starts in 1981 in Molteno, a small karoo town situated eighty kilometres north-west of Queenstown. He discovered his passion for art in school, where he illustrated super-heroes and soldiers to the delight of his friends. Unfortunately, like many in his generation, Asanda’s passion was subdued by a broad-based emphasis on commercial and business skills, and very limited art facilities. He found himself struggling alongside his pears with maths and business studies.
Like many of his peers, he completed school with University exception, but could not afford a tertiary degree. In 2004, partially employed as a waiter, Asanda hit rock bottom. His fate seemed restricted to the limited opportunities available to citizens in Molteno: sheep farming or working at the Ouma Rusks factory. This is when he started painting again and when he rediscovered his creative calling.
Asanda’s tale after 2004 is one of a man passionate about art, driven to succeed against the pressures of family, society and situation. He proactively took every opportunity he could to improve himself and his work. Apart from archiving a diploma in visual arts from Walter Sisulu University, highlights in his artistic journey include assisting artist Aleta Michaletos, revitalise the Molteno Museum, and participating in an artist’s ‘boot camp’ coordinated by Churchill Madikida.
In 2010 he received the Emerging Artist of the year by Ann Bryan Art gallery in East London, South Africa. He continues to commit himself with matters concerning his community Molteno, he recently funded project he calls ‘Inkululeko Art Reach’ where he teaches school children basic art and life skills, and together they beautify the small town by painting murals and ruined walls.
He came to Johannesburg at the beginning of 2012 and while assisting at Art Jamming in Melrose Arch, he continued to develop his portfolio. “I live in the dark corners of downtown Johannesburg City, in a room as a house by the day and a studio by night, as most artists do.”
He recently received the Reinhold Cassirer Award, at The Bag Factory Artist studios, sponsored by Nadine Gordimer and Strauss & Co, he is now permanent resident at Bag Factory Artist Studios.
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