Original title : Faith XLVII – The alchemist
Blending street art with nature, Faith XLVII fills our cities with fantastic wildlife and glimpses of the moon. Unlike the stereotypes or urbanism, the vision put forth by Faith XLVII highlights what is truly essential.
A self-taught, multidisciplinary artist from South Africa, Faith XLVII began painting as a teenager, learning her art on the street. Long considered a subculture, street art can now be found almost everywhere, though it continues to challenge the status quo to make an established name for itself. Faith XLVII quickly focused on the quality of her work, dedicating herself to her practice. Making art became meditative for her, a sort of gestural mantra that enabled her to tap into her personal experience and express her roots. With time, travel and through talking with others, she discovered new ways to express herself. Today, city walls are no longer her only canvas: she also creates paintings, video and light installations and holograms.
When asked about her influences, she admits that there are many. The connection with nature, however, remains constant. “Living in big cities, we no longer know where our food comes from; we forget to look at the sky and stars. This way of thinking, this way of dissociating ourselves from the ecosystem, and the resulting decisions are destructive. We have to examine our true place in the world.” The mythical creatures Faith XLVII paints on grey city walls are meant to raise awareness, stimulate creativity and make nature accessible.
As an artist, Faith XLVII has always worked in a male-dominated field. Her response to this has been to create strong works brimming with an energy that balances yin and yang, female and male—works that take the long view. In her murals, the muted tones of her palette, inspired by nature, blend into the surrounding environment, giving the impression that they have always been there.
For her most recent project, she has been working with Hennessy on its “Very Special” limited series. For the last decade, the cognac maker has been calling on the talents of artists like JonOne, Vhils and Shepard Fairey. Faith XLVII is the first woman to join this group. “It’s an honour to represent female artists,” she says. The partnership has no specific mandate, with no real limitations, other than the format. She thoroughly researched the brand and its history before creating a work inspired by the passage of time. “When I visited Maison Hennessy, I realized that cognac has been made exactly the same way for the past 250 years and that both the season and the wood used for the barrels can affect the taste of the final product.” Impressed by the expertise handed down from one generation to the next, and the natural manufacturing process, she worked to express this authenticity. “I was inspired by historical documents and the esoteric look of antique sundials and other systems that mark the passage of time.” She ultimately created a complex design, similar to a mandala, with the sun as the central element. “Colours trigger emotions,” she says, noting the gold on the leaves is a reference to alchemy and the process of transforming base metals into gold. As a multidisciplinary artist, Faith XLVII had hoped to go beyond the limited restraints of the packaging to create an accompanying immersive experience. The global pandemic unfortunately put a stop to these plans. Asked if she would repeat the experience, she responds with a resounding yes. Who knows what the future may hold for this artist with so much to say and so much more to share.