In previous work, Colbert Mashile (b. 1972 Bushbuckridge, South Africa) explored the psychological impact of traditional circumcision and initiation rituals on initiates. As Mashile’s work had developed, he has established a style, technique, and iconography that are uniquely his own. Using acrylic water paints and charcoal on thick watercolor paper, he has become known for his earthy colors, precise draftsmanship, and witty and idiosyncratic compositions that combine animal characters and human figures – often in apparently equal-status exchanges. These are also combined with a range of props that often seem unrelated to the scenario depicted, creating a sense of dialogue at the heart of each work.
Colbert Mashile's Background
Growing up in the rural areas around Bushbuckridge, Mashile spent his childhood deeply embedded in folk tales and mythology, interacting with animals (he and his friends, for instance, herded goats) and the full range of humanity. Several animals – like goats and baboons – recur throughout his work, and each of these animals has acquired a particular character and symbolic resonance. There are animals that are eaten (goats being the most common) and animals that are never eaten (reptiles). There are animals that are closer to the human world (baboons) and animals that are closer to the spirit world (hyenas). Often Mashille will insert props that have a personal autobiographical significance for him (a box of matches) or his original community (the miner’s hat, for him, represents the challenges of manhood).
Colbert Mashile's Art
Although his artistic vision is highly individual, Mashile’s art is full of commentary on social and political issues – between the rural and urban, Western and African, physical and spiritual, beautiful, and ‘ugly’. He has already established himself as South Africa’s most unique and exciting contemporary artists.
2018 - As We Are, Everard Read CIRCA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2017 - Truth or Dare, Everard Read Cape Town
2016 - Man’s Duality (Unearthed) CIRCA, Johannesburg, South Africa
2015 - Beast of Burden NIROX Projects, Johannesburg, South Africa
S'Ka Motho (Just Like Man) SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2013 - Messages from our Ancestors Art Eye Gallery, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
2006 - Mmawaka Montedi AVA, Cape Town, South Africa
2004 - Tsa Bagale ,Gallery On The Square, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa
Selected group exhibitions
2016 - Title to be confirmed, CIRCA group exhibition, London, UK
2015 - FNB Jo-burg Art Fair, Everard Read Gallery Booth, Johannesburg, South Africa
2006 - Les arts de la Coexistence? Alliance Francaise, Paris, France
Les arts de la Coexistence? Musee des Arts Derniers, Paris, France
New Painting, KZNSA Gallery, Durban, South Africa
New Painting, Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa
DAK' ART, Dakar, Senegal
New Painting, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa