By Aditi Maheshwari
Liberty Du, popularly known as Faith XLVII (read as Faith 47) a South African interdisciplinary artist, recently completed the final installment of her iconic Mural Trilogy. Mural Trilogy has been seven years in the making to pay tribute to South African game-changers like Nelson Mandela, Yvonne Chaka Chakaand. Faith takes this golden opportunity to honour the women of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province.
The artwork, that was commissioned by Hennessy, the world’s leading cognac brand, features the likes of former president Nelson Mandela, depicted by international artist Shepard Fairey in 2014 (Braamfontein); legendary singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka brought to life by Portuguese street artist Vhils in 2018 (Maboneng); and now, Faith XLVII’s tribute to women. This was unveiled on 22 April on Smit Service Rd in Braamfontein, fondly known as “Braamies” by locals, a central suburb of Johannesburg. The final piece of the trilogy was unveiled at an exclusive event that saw artists and creatives such as MC Scoop Makhathini, Osmic Menoe, and the likes come together to celebrate. This was a creative endeavour where Joburg’s young, old and trendy descend on the precinct to honour the inspiring figures. The spectacular mural is just another expression of the continued affiliation between Hennessy Very Special and urban culture.
The collaboration with Faith XLVII for the design of the tenth annual Hennessy Very Special Limited Edition was announced in 2020. As a guest artist, Faith XLVII was also the first female voice and first South African to join the Limited-Edition series; a lineage that features internationally acclaimed artists such as Felipe Pantone, Vhils, JonOne, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, and Futura.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with this global talent. Who better than Faith XLVII- a fellow South African and embodiment of our “Never Stop, Never Settle” brand philosophy – to complete the Mural Trilogy,” said Khomotso Ledwaba, brand manager for Hennessy SA in a statement.
“As an artist, activist, and game-changer in her field, Faith XLVII builds on our longstanding commitment to forging ties with pioneers of urban culture. It has been a privilege to work with her and to reflect on the artistic synergies between both herself as an artist and us as a brand. It’s an important moment for us in our ongoing effort to partner with artists who are part of a global movement.”
A TRIBUTE TO POWERFUL SOUTH AFRICAN ICONS
“Following the themes of the Shepard and Vhils murals, who both celebrated iconic South African figures, Mandela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, I decided to honour the women of Johannesburg,” said Faith XLVII.
“The woman who has to navigate this great city, with its booming culture and bustling streets, who has to earn a living, often supporting others while still keeping her mind focused on her dreams and abilities, who also has to deal with the constant struggle of staying safe and overcoming many challenges while still striving to be liberated and independent. She who brings life, wisdom, culture, and shine to our lives – in the form of our sisters, friends, mothers, daughters, lovers, girlfriends, wives, aunts, and grandmothers. This woman is the hero of the city, of our country and it is to her that my mural is dedicated to,” she concludes.
“I generally don’t project into how an audience should interpret a work, but I am hoping the final mural conveys the vibrance and electricity of Johannesburg, a city I have loved since childhood. This while paying tribute to the powerful women who shape the city’s culture,” she concluded.
Johannesburg is home to some of Africa’s tallest structures, such as the Sentech Tower, Hillbrow Tower, Carlton Centre, and Ponte City Apartments. It is also the cultural hub in South Africa. The art ranges from sculptures to murals to pieces by artists like William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx’s Fire Walker. Many pieces are the creation of community workshops, such as the Vilakazi Street sculptures. Some are functional, such as street furniture found in Hillbrow and the city centre.
Faith XLVII has been in limelight for speaking on issues of human rights, spiritual endurance, and social issues to break the status-quo mentality of justifying the so-called masculine virtues of aggression and physical prowess. She works to initiate gender equality so that woman’s independent identity is honoured and appreciated and also the biases are eradicated and women are empowered to contribute their unique gifts to the society at large. In the final installment of the trilogy, the brand continues to explore the experimentation of the artistic process, as it collaborates with Faith XLVII to pay tribute to powerful South African icons.