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COLBERT MASHILE EXHIBITION (article first published : 2003-08-19)

Presented by the NSA in association with Gallery on the Square, an exhibition titled Tša Ka Mafuri (Lurking Behind) by Colbert Mashile is to run in NSA Galleries.

Colbert Mashile is a young artist living and working in Johannesburg. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts at the University of Witwatersrand in 2000 and has since exhibited widely in South Africa. His work is represented in major corporate and public collections. His work was seen most recently on the group exhibition Show Me Home at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Tša Ka Mafuri is his second solo exhibition.

Mashile's work is a response to and a comment on traditional circumcision and initiation rituals. Coming from Bushbuckridge in the Northern Province, a place shrouded in powerful norms and customs, he underwent circumcision at the age of ten with his peers. As an artist he has developed a visual language that is partially an attempt to come to terms with the conflicting emotional results of the experience as well as the expectation by society to take pride in traditional ritual in contrast to the physiological trauma inflicted through this process.

Mashile states: "I decided to heal myself by dealing with these experiences in my artworks whereby I try to use psychological images which I feel comfortable with in an attempt to replace horrific scenes, sights and sounds of the initiation ritual. I am not necessarily advocating the demise of the practice, but just to express my individual feeling which I believe would be shared by others who have endured the same."

Curator and critic David Brodie states that “Mashile's work references various elements of more traditional art-production techniques (print-making and painting). But, within this production, he isolates the personal narrative as the loudest voice within a cacophony of layers of meaning and reference. Mashile's work is … referencing of a genre of production that is growing rapidly amongst local producers: a language of challenge (against previous traditions of 'other voices' of the documentary/classificatory impulse) that claims agency for the participants themselves, as opposed to using the participants as simply manifest entities towards capturing generalised representations of conditions or events.”

Mashile will present a new body of work, foregrounding his idiosyncratic visual language, showing for the first time in KZN. The exhibition will be opened in the Main Gallery by Virginia MacKenny on August 19 at 18h00 and will run until September 7.




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