CityLife Arts

Tabata’s paintings are a poetic depiction of the mundane

16 on Lerotholi Gallery re-opens its doors with the exhibition Revering the Ordinary’

By CityLife Arts Writer

When Covid 19 struck and lockdown ensued in March this year, several businesses including those in the arts were affected. One of those art businesses whose activities were disrupted is that of a new gallery in the township of Langa, Cape Town, 16 on Lerotholi Gallery. It first opened late in 2019, but shortly after had to close its doors to the public due to the global pandemic.

However as  the country moves into Level 1 of Lockdown, the Langa based gallery, is back in business, having reopened yesterday, October 3,  with a selection of paintings by artist, Gerald Tabata.

The exhibition, entitled Revering the Ordinary is also be available for viewing on the gallery’s website, and physical gallery visits can be arranged through appointment.

Work Details People of Khayelitsha.

“We are pleased to be welcoming guests back into our space in alignment with Level 1 Lockdown regulations as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” said gallery Director, Mangaliso Tsepo Sobukwe. “We are also excited to share Gerald Tabata’s work with our audience. His paintings are particularly relevant considering the times that we find ourselves in, and our tentative return to daily life under ‘the new normal’,” he continued. Revering the Ordinary is a collection of paintings that are a poetic depiction of the mundane, that may inspire in the viewer a renewed appreciation for freedom of movement, the reigniting of relationships and a tentative return to the daily rhythms of human interaction. “What I love about art is that I can create something from nothing,” said Tabata. “I love the creative process. For me, art is more than just a career. Art is like I’m breathing. It is my passion.

That driving force is not one thing. There are many things that make me want to create,” he continued. If the painting is a document, Tabata becomes a social commentator, using his way of seeing to evoke a deep sense of respect for freedom of movement and an admiration for the mundane. “My art is always about people. My art philosophy is about improving. For me, it’s all about how I feel. If I want to bring out an element of a work, I just do it. I’m being honest about what I see. It’s like they say: ‘Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world was thrust into solitude as lockdowns and extreme social distancing became what was called ‘the new normal’. In that stillness, many things rose to the surface of our societies, including inadequate healthcare systems, authoritarianism, glaring inequality and the illusion of security.

Work Details Ghetto Youth Mixed Media.

As the country and the world emerge from various stages of lockdown, Tabata’s paintings are a poetic depiction of the mundane, that may serve to inspire in the viewer a renewed appreciation for freedom of movement, the reigniting of relationships and a tentative return to the daily rhythms of human interaction. Tabata’s paintings have a documentary feel, becoming an almost photographic record of the comings and goings of his subjects; simultaneously simplifying their physical form and alluding to the absolute fullness of their lives. Tabata’s subjects live, work, play and love in the township.

They move from one place to another, often not even acknowledging the viewer – they are wholly engrossed in their activities, their lives completely their own. The surfaces of many of Tabata’s paintings are sculptural in nature, imbuing them with depth and nuance. His subjects always seem to be in transit, always in a state of movement. If the painting is a document, Tabata becomes a social commentator, using his way of seeing to evoke a deep sense of respect for freedom of movement and an admiration for the mundane.

Tabata is a self-taught artist, who was born in 1975 and spent his childhood in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. He was enamoured of art from a young age and was trained in a variety of disciplines including sculpture, photography and painting, which he took to immediately. Tabata participated in the Community Arts Project (CAP) between 1988 and 1990 where he received further mentorship and training and became an artist in residence at Greatmore Studios in 2004, where he participated in a number of group exhibitions. He also took part in the Thupelo International Arts Workshop in 2006, collaborating with local and international artists as part of a creative cultural exchange programme. Tabata has exhibited in South Africa and internationally.

The exhibition will run until 16 November 2020 and the gallery will be open from Thursday to Saturday between 10:00 and 15:00. Other viewings can be arranged by appointment by emailing: enquiries@16onlerotholi.africa.

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