The Portfolio: Sindiso Nyoni talks about brands, values and nostalgia
When I look at the world as an artist, I tend to see it through an optimistic lens. I often like to focus on beauty, because I put creativity first.
I enjoy self-expression in a way that often creates discomfort, which is why I think artists excel at providing the world with mirrors to better observe and understand us.
Although it’s a very thin line, I am critical of my involvement with the various brands I’ve worked with, often making sure brand ethics don’t conflict with my belief systems and integrity. as a visual artist.
If a brand doesn’t align with my visual art message, which is often centered around inspiring people and improving the human condition (coming from my activist roots), I will more often than not reject that particular project.
My relationship with Hennessy dates back to 2018 when I was selected as one of eight African creative entrepreneurs to be featured in the second installment of Hennessy’s signature brand campaign VS – Never Stop. Never settle down. He focused on pioneers who make Africa’s creativity shine.
When the Zoo Lake basketball court case came, it was a full circle moment, as I first became involved (professionally) with the NBA brand in 2017, when I was tasked by NBA Africa to create unique works of art that commemorated three African legends who played in the NBA. Prior to my professional involvement with the Hennessy and NBA brands, I had grown up with NBA basketball as a young boy in Bulawayo. (I’m a huge Allen Iverson fan.)
I continued to play through my high school years and was always a huge fan of the game, so there was also a nostalgic connection to the game with this particular project.
My approach is often influenced by the research stage. I usually spend a day or two fully immersed in the project, its connections and any information, visually, before moving on to sketching out those ideas and crafting.
The inspiration around my design is drawn from the time I spent in Cognac, France (about a week), as well as the various indigenous craft techniques from the southern regions of Africa. These include handmade items with beadwork, tapestries and batik textiles.
The details of the design consist of a sun in its center, representing the warmth of the continent. It is depicted alongside wavy patterns to mimic the flow of water at the Zoo Lake and represents the Charente River in Cognac.
While in France, I learned that the Charente carried the precious barrels of cognac along maritime trade routes, which eventually led to the expansion of Hennessy around the world.
The design also makes use of an emotive use of a rugged red, reminiscent of the colors of the distillery. I laced them in gold and yellow against a dominant black background to suggest the strength of people on the continent. The patterns used represent the elements water and earth.
It was important to incorporate and pay homage to contemporary African art inspired by the continent, especially Zimbabwe and South Africa. I also used the iconic Armed Arm symbol, subtly redesigned to incorporate the NBA partnership with a basketball in hand.
In the painting is part of a worldwide series of community basketball art collaborations. Sindiso Nyoni collaborated with Hennessy.