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Jan 21 - Mar 27, 2022 Genk

In previous work, Colbert Mashile 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 watercolour paper, he has become known for his earthy colours, 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. 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). 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. From Everard Read, Johannesburg

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