Phumelele Tshabalala’s practice focuses on the human figure, examining the body as a site of expression and resistance. His works construct new spaces where reality and possibility collide. Making use of found imagery from newspapers, magazines and online media, and combining these with his own photography, the artist reassesses historical, cultural and social narratives, centering on those that touch on identity, race and social injustice. Underpinning his practice are the notions of Flow, Layering and Rupture, the three foundational elements of Hip-Hop translated into a visual methodology. Tshabalala creates striking surfaces alive with colour, pattern and texture, employing a wide range of media and techniques, from oil, acrylic and spray paints, to printing, collage, carving and embossing. Graphic and painterly figures shift in scale and collide with flat planes of colour, bold patterns and twisting organic forms. This approach encompasses the fluidity and complexity of collective black identity, reassessing its history and creating its future.
Tshabalala was included in Pippy Houldsworth Gallery's 2020 Insight project, an online viewing platform that debuted new works by fifteen artists, all produced during lockdown. Click below to view Phumelele Tshabalala's Insight page.