Boxer In Fine Garb II (SOLD)

Colbert Mashile


Watercolour on Paper, 2012


181cm x 80cm

More Artwork by Colbert Mashile

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Colbert Mashile is a young artist from Johannesburg whose work deals with tradition, customs and rituals and attitudes towards present in society. As a young boy, Mashile had to undergo certain circumcision rites that left him with a lot of emotional trauma and psychological confusion.

Born in 1972 in Bushbuckridge, Northern Province, Mashile comes from a place and society has powerful cultural norms and customs associated with it. At the age of 10 he had to undergo initiation rituals. The circumcision ritual in the Bushbuckridge area is no longer practiced just as a ritual marking the passage from boyhood to manhood but rather is being performed as a ritual for ritual sakes- an attempt to hold on to and reinforce traditions. Mashile and many other young men like him have struggled to comprehend the historical nature of the traumatic circumcision process.

Through the restorative process of creating art, Mashile has been able to begin to deal with the suppressed trauma of his experience and expresses his emotions and experiences through his artworks. Using imagery ranging from tiny human figures to   coffin like vehicles and darkly looming anthropomorphic figures, Mashile works create use universal signifies of horror, anger and fear to express a deeply personal narrative. His works deal at once with the psychological traumas of the initiation process but also with the issues surrounding the traditional practices, issues of home and belonging, language boundaries and man’s place in the natural landscape.

Mashile when speaking about his work said that this works are about “truth about the land and its people and thus my existence in South Africa”.

Driven by the turmoil from within, Mashile’s technique is quick and loose in style, allowing the direction of his image to be the result of his intuitive response.. The titles of Mashile’s work are in Sotho and are directly derived from descriptions of the imagery found in each work.