In his latest exhibition of prints at David Krut Projects Cape Town, Koloane once again clearly articulates his views on South African society.
The exhibition consists of three large monotypes, one editioned varied print, and four smaller intaglio prints. The three monotypes are consistent with the direct and spontaneous markmaking of the traditional monotype. Koloane’s colour palette consists of reds, yellows, browns and acidic blue. One of the large monotypes, Cityscape with Moonlight, could perhaps signal a different direction in Koloane’s works, a breaking away from harsh markmaking toward a softer approach and a pastel colour palette of pinks, blues, and yellows.
Koloane was born in Alexandra Township, adjacent to the affluent suburb of Sandton, in 1938. He witnessed the dehumanising economic effects of the Group Areas Act that stripped his family of their primary source of income. The destruction of Koloane’s father’s tailor shop drew his attention to the evils of the apartheid system. Although Koloane’s father never witnessed the demise of the apartheid regime, Koloane has witnessed the birth and growing pains of our vulnerable democracy, visually translating it into the lives of everyday landscapes and people.
Nadine Gordimer writes, “Koloane’s interpretation of urban life has struggled and triumphed in finding different visions and modes, techniques, materials to express the huge oppressions, upheavals, and hard-won freedoms that have been epitomized in our cities’ sprawl” (Preface to TAXI 006 – David Koloane). In this collection of images, Koloane seems neither to condone nor criticise the phenomenon of urbanisation that has led to thousands of migrants leaving rural areas and disorderly African states for the unforgiving city of Johannesburg. The influx of refugees to South Africa, highlighted by the recent xenophobic attacks on foreign African nationals by South Africans that occurred several months after Koloane had completed the prints, illustrates the gravity of the situation.
The constant arrival and departure of commuters and displaced individuals looking for a better life indicates how the urban landscapes of South African cities are a microcosm for contemporary South African life.
Cityscape with Moonlight
Tadjo, Véronique. 2002.Taxi -006: David Koloane. Johannesburg: David Krut Publishing.