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Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens: The Creative Power of Friendship cover

Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens: The Creative Power of Friendship

While popular culture puts sexual relationships on a pedestal, many people find friendships just as transformative and nourishing as love affairs. Emerging South African-born artists Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens form two halves of a long-term creative partnership that bears fruit in new work on display at Los Angeles galley Subliminal Projects.

In a new body of collaborative work, emerging South African artists Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens explore the tender familiarity of friendship.

Since meeting in high school nearly a decade ago, Keya and Elléna have completed over 20 murals worldwide, working collectively and individually. Beginning their creative relationship by exploring film, music, and eventually murals, the two soon developed an intuitive working style bolstered by mutual love and respect. While their work overlaps thematically, Keya’s designs are bold and geometric, described as “ancient contemporary minimalism.” Elléna’s style, on the other hand, is fluid, figurative, and delicate, awash in romantic melancholy. Both artists are drawn towards muted earth tones: dull ochres, burnt oranges, and mossy greens create solemn, intimate spaces.

Keya and Elléna’s new joint exhibition, Just Outside Your Centre, “is a deeply personal body of work,” one that narrates the story of their friendship and resulting collaboration. “This exhibition has been a long time in the making,” the childhood friends say of their upcoming show at Subliminal Projects. Like a warm bath, Keya and Elléna’s work offers safe and comfortable stillness, the tender familiarity of friendship filtered through a single point of love.

Like a warm bath, Keya and Elléna’s work offers safe and comfortable stillness.

In a new body of collaborative work, emerging South African artists Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens explore the tender familiarity of friendship.
In a new body of collaborative work, emerging South African artists Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens explore the tender familiarity of friendship.
In a new body of collaborative work, emerging South African artists Keya Tama and Elléna Lourens explore the tender familiarity of friendship.

Keya Tama: Website | Instagram | Purchase Work

Elléna Lourens: Website | Instagram | Purchase Work

All photos published with permission of the artist(s).

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