Atang Tshikare’s work is reflective of the new generation of eclectic, multi-disciplined creatives who represent their culture but are not exclusively defined by it. These are the young creatives who are shaping the new South African cultural landscape. The portraits are of successful and inspirational friends. Athi-Patra Ruga and Isaac Zavale. They may appear representational but the artist succeeds in revealing an emotional sense if his subject.
Tshikare's work is steeped in the city; its tendency to alienate and homogenise, and the functional and survivalist creativity the city demands for its historical patterns to be subverted.
Painted late at night to the progressive jazz of Jaga Jazzist & Caribou the works have a sweet and sugary palette: powder blue, sherbet pink and lemon yellow; lime green and candy apple red.
Full of symbolism and hidden meaning, the softness of the avian shapes, contrast with the hard edged architectural lines, reminiscent of Karel Nel’s structures. Atang got hooked in architectural drawings as a graffiti artist hiding from cops on rooftops. He imbues his work with stories, some drawn from African myths or folktales.
'Not by a Witch' consists of paintings of which some are portraits of inspirational friends including Athi-Patra Ruga and Isaac Zavale. The remainder of the works focus on African mythology alongside architectural references.
ATANG TSHIKARE / One Day is Today (Isaac Zavale)
Isaac Zavale is a friend, mentor and best man to Atang Tshikare.
Zavale is Alphabet Zoo. His colourful aerosol stencils on portable plywood reflects on the fleetingness of black middle-class life by bringing the street art of culture jamming into the gallery. He juxtaposes white figures with largely black-consumed brands such as KFC, Joshua Doore, Bakers Biscuits and Grand-Pa headache powder and blackface equivalents. He also replaces parts of the images, for instance, the Bakers man’s wares, with a Bible and a pile of shit.
Zavale embodies the idea of creativity being “an attitude, a philosophy and a performance”. For Zavale, Alphabet Zoo functions as an alter ego for the ideas he can’t always execute as an individual. He is a prolific artist, versed in drawing, aerosol painting, stencilling, printmaking, photography and zinemaking.
“My work transforms a bit. I normally work and collaborate with different artists,” says Zavale, with his trademark sprouty dreads and high-perched cap.
Zavale tackles, without heaviness or haughtiness investigates the South African discourse, its drinking culture (or is that the crippling drought?), the dreaded white privilege and the shaming of taxi drivers.