Themba Shibase is one of the four finalists selected for the prestigious 2008 MTN New Contemporaries Award. The award selects artists who are considered to produce some of the best of the country’s contemporary work; artists who develop new visual languages that explore current issues with fresh media, materials and ideas. For his exhibition at the KZNSA Gallery, Shibase will show work produced for the award, and first shown at the UJ Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
Three bodies of work make up the show. In the first, a diptych on canvas, Shibase juxtaposes large-scale oil on canvas portraits of extremist former Afrikaner nationalist leaders with Africa’s renowned advocates of Afrocentrism. The posing of these figures in a singular piece is intended to illustrate the obvious, i.e. the contrasting theories advocated by these figures who have had such great influence on Africa, its people and its history. The personal inflection of these seemingly political paintings reflect the artist’s attitude of ambivalence and skepticism related to divergent and disparate notions of purist identity.
The second body of work, comprising four smaller canvases, takes an anecdotal view of the question of cultural identity, and the artist highlights the often-overlooked importance of an individual experience within grander, collective experiences. In this way, he questions concepts such as whiteness, blackness, Zuluness, masculinity...
The final component is a video piece where Shibase makes his private and intimate environment the subject of scrutiny.