Anxious Afrikaner patriarchs and post-apartheid chief gangsters take centre stage in Themba Shibase’s new solo exhibition, Slightly off Centre. The Durban-based contemporary artist is known for his interrogation of current socio and political issues within a pan-African context, seeking to engage the “underlying issues behind the slow pace of development on this continent”.
Themba’s current show opened last week at SMAC Gallery and follows on from where his previous exhibition left off. Shown in Cape Town in 2013, Paint, Masculinity, Power and Violence was a jaundiced suite of paintings that interrogated African power structures – revealing how leaders like Robert Mugabe, Idi Amin and Mabutu Sese Seko abused their power, enriched themselves and imposed their oppressive will upon their helpless countrymen.
Slightly off Centre was first presented as part of the official program at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July this year. The body of work depicts politicians, business tycoons, captains of industry and professional trouble-makers. Themba’s critique is a bold one; calling out the African patriarchal culture that has given rise to a society based on male sexual entitlement and the abuse of women in the private realm, and dictatorial violence and corruption in the public realm.
An extract from the exhibition text reads, “Themba Shibase is an activist, and his bracing, yet harsh critique of the current shaky status quo is bound to make viewers question the premises upon which South African identity and politics are based. His imagery communicates immediately and effectively. It is the clarity of his metaphors and symbols that make him such a deeply impressive artist.”
Slightly off Centre is showing at SMAC Gallery until 21 November.
Artworks copyright Themba Shibase. Courtesy of SMAC Gallery.