Themba Shibase exhibits a new body of work at this year’s National Arts Festival. ‘Slightly Off Centre’ is a robust show that holds no punches in a satirical survey of current South/ern African political culture among other concerns.
‘Employing a unique and fresh visual language, Shibase addresses large and generation-defining issues, such as: leadership; post-colonial and ‘post-dictatorial’ power structures; masculinity, identity, gender and gay politics; as well as the complex challenges facing a young aspirational generation grappling with culture and heritage within a rapidly changing global and digital world. At first glance, Shibase’s works are skilful, confident and simple in their execution and they appeal purely on a visual level. Closer inspection and analysis of the content reveals layers of subtle innuendo, resulting in an overall, uncomfortably direct confrontation for the viewer.
In Shibase’s own words, ‘the post-colonial African leader’s capacity to effectively ‘lead’ has evidently been viewed from a less critical perspective by his fellow Africans. It is noted that, after all, he was very instrumental in the emancipating of the people of his land from the exploitative rule of the former colonizer; hence, he still holds a heroic position in the eyes of those he rules. It is this complacent perspective of the so called ‘Struggle Veteran Leader’ that has resulted in many post-colonial African leaders managing to evade solid criticism and condemnation for brute and autocratic leadership, which in some cases can be equated to that of colonial rule itself.’ (Courtesy of SMAC Gallery).