TAYHE MUNSAMY ON EXPLORING THE INTRICACIES OF HER IDENTITY THROUGH ART

TAYHE MUNSAMY ON EXPLORING THE INTRICACIES OF HER IDENTITY THROUGH ART

We sat down with artist Tayhe Munsamy and discussed the importance of telling authentic stories, being infinitely curious and how she taps into her cultures to create mesmerising art.
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Tayhe Munsamy’s art is all consuming like an embrace from a loved one. There’s an air of familiarity, a welcoming, an invitation to share in the joy, the food and the stories of her intricate yet rich cultures. The first time I saw Munsamy’s work was at Eclectica Contemporary’s “Girls Run the World” exhibition for Women’s month. The pieces on show were “Koeksisters and Coffee on a Sunday Morning” and “I Carry the Rice She Blessed in the Flames”. These mesmerising pieces implore you to stay a while, take it all in and feel its warmth.

Who she is

Storytelling plays a significant role in her work. She frequently engages with subject matter within the realms of speculative thinking, fiction, mythology and folklore. She explores the intricacies of her identity as a mixed-race woman in South Africa, how her experience as a Coloured and Indian person informs her reality, and how she engages with her past.

“I’m an innately curious person. I always want to learn. Exploring and researching certain mythologies, folklores, and histories interests me because I want to unravel the stories within these themes and see how I can creatively express them.”

“I love crafting beautiful worlds for characters who look like me and the ones I love to exist in. There is a richness in the narrative themes of culture, community, and home that I always want to evoke in my work.”

Tayhe Munsamy is a 25-year-old artist based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her practice features both traditional acrylic painting and digital works. Currently taking some time off from her Master's degree in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths University of London, she’s placing all her focus on her blossoming career as an artist.

“I would describe my style as abundant, warm, and celebratory. More is always more with me. I love crafting beautiful worlds for characters who look like me and the ones I love to exist in.

Her work

While still very early in her career, Munsamy has participated in some incredible exhibitions in the country. They include participating in the RMB Talent Unlocked program and the Eclectica Contemporary’s “Girls Run the World” exhibition.

Speaking about her career highlights and her most challenging pieces to date, she mentions, “My career is only just beginning, but being involved in the “Girls Run the World” exhibition was a huge honour. The opening coincided with August’s First Thursdays, an event I’ve always wanted to be a part of. I love showing my work locally.”

She continues, “My painting for the RMB Talent Unlocked program, on display at Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg in 2021, was my largest work to date. It was a diptych of 1.5 meters in height and more than 2 meters in length. Working at that scale within the program's time limit was a serious challenge, but it turned out to be one of my favourite pieces.”

For the young artist, art has always been something that has come naturally to her. She was encouraged and nurtured by her parents to explore her imagination; this support allowed her to flourish as an artist.

“I love art because it grounds me. As an over-thinker who is always stressed out, art is my solace. It’s the one thing I never worry about.”

Her future

Speaking about some of her greatest difficulties as an emerging artist, she notes, “Finding the time and funding to create work at the rate and scale that I want to has been difficult. The pace at which artists are expected to work is increasing, but the creation of work takes time, money, and effort. Three things that an emerging artist like myself seldom has simultaneously. Making enough work to stay relevant and ride the momentum of visibility whilst staying authentic to my practice is a challenge I constantly have to navigate.”

Looking to the future, Munsamy notes, “I would love to have a solo show in the near future. I know I am cable of creating a body of work that can stand on its own. I’m excited to keep growing my portfolio and skill set toward that goal.”