Phumelele Tshabalala, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1987. He studied Fine and Applied Arts at Tshwane University of Technology specializing in Printmaking and Painting. He moved to New York to complete his MFA in Visual Art at SUNY Purchase College. Now living in New York City as interdisciplinary artist and teacher, he creates socio-reflective work primarily concerned about the human condition in light of social injustice. He is influenced by a lineage of South African artists who used art as a weapon to combat the atrocities like apartheid.
He is amongst the post-apartheid contemporary South African artists producing works that re-construct, re-claim, re-fine and refer to a new collective cultural identity. He uses the body as a site of expression and resistance; where in some works the body is a signifier and marker, deeply rooted in historical narratives that are not easily embraced.
He is committed and dedicated to going beyond mere formal questions of making, but aims straight at the heart of who he is, what is going on around him and what he can do to make a difference. He believes in art that is not just an expression of individual satisfaction but a conceptually/technically belligerent and educative art for all.
Artraker Biennial Awards 2017
CONFLICT AREA / COUNTRY OF REFERENCE: UNITED STATES / SOUTH AFRICA
Looking both ways was created in direct response to the breaking of the black body in contemporary Africa and America with emphasis to the persisting nihilistic attitude of black South Africa. The latter became a focus to extend the progressive conversations of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The work is made up of large-scale mixed-media works on paper, created from previously discarded printmaking paper scraps that have been conjoined. These works carry imagery of broken black bodies that are overlaid with a digitized frottage of Afro-combs. Each work reflects a symptom of a larger socio-political system that continuously devalues black lives; where greedy opportunistic public leaders build their own agendas on the legacy of appalling political systems that continue to govern.
The work acknowledges the duality of black social-political misery in both countries; yet it aims to encourage discussions on race and social injustice. Emphasis is placed on the idea of a contemporary spectacle; widely known in extreme police brutality in the US and in South Africa’s misguided mobs gathering to see black bodies beaten and necklaced. The work aims to challenge/questions how we are to build a genuine multiracial democracy and sustain it in an era of global economy and moments of xenophobic frenzy
A montage of silent faces offering unremorseful and distant portraits 2.1
Series - Looking Both Ways
Large-scale mixed-media works on paper
© Artraker CIC 2017