We’ve long been fans of Ninjabreadboy‘s work. His signature line-based illustrations and hand-poked tattoos are neatly detailed and always have a distinct South African, and often humorous, tone to them. His most recent body of work is an extension of this, but has a more serious theme. ‘Late Harvest’ opened at Space Between Gallery last week and comments on the absurdity and severity of alcohol dependence in South African farming communities, specifically in the Western Cape.
Through this body of work Ninjabreadboy explores how these circumstances become ‘normal’, and why they are now a fixed association with rural communities. The mixed media show is made up of idyllic landscapes which are tainted by allusions to the destructive habits that are fundamentally tied to the history of the winelands. The collection sees Ninjabreadboy experimenting with a few new mediums, including glass, canvas, sculpture, found objects, and defacing drawings.
Before he started creating this body of work, Ninjabreadboy spent 6 months travelling to and living in small Western Cape farming communities like Swellendam, Paarl, Wellington, Rawsonville, Worcester, De Doorns, and Montagu. He says, “It really interests me how differently I see things now. Instead of seeing a beautiful landscape or a cliché South African scene that I would normally just take for granted and keep walking, I now see the small “insignificant” things hidden away in these spaces which gives them more depth and has evidence of all these small stories that have taken place in these spaces.”
Ninjabreadboy’s reasons for tackling this subject matter for his first solo show were also personal, “My dad hadn’t had a drink for 12 years. He worked in the agricultural industry and had a large client base in the Western Cape. Being a recovering alcoholic played a very big part in his life and he was dedicated in helping others with their drinking and drug problems. Over the years he realised how serious the drinking problems were amongst farming communities in the Western Cape…Late Harvest has been a process of mourning with a positive outcome. It’s a way for me to use what I do to continue my dad’s legacy. I don’t have the gift of teaching and helping people like he did, so this is my way of trying to instigate change.”
Catch ‘Late Harvest’ at The Loft, Space Between Gallery, 139 Albert Road in Woodstock, Cape Town until 10 July 2015.