David Koloane

David Koloane is an artist who grew up in the township of Alexandra and has worked in the arts in South Africa for more than 25 years.  During this time, Koloane has explored many different techniques to create highly emotive art pieces.  Focusing on painting in acrylic and water colour, and making prints using etching and dry point processes, Koloane has developed a unique and inspirational body of work.

Drawing reference from his surroundings, Koloane’s work usually alludes to the complex urban landscapes of Johannesburg.  Imbued with both political and social commentary, Koloane’s works express strong emotional linkages to events and spaces in and around the city.

‘Koloane’s interpretation of urban life has struggled and triumphed in finding different visions and modes, techniques, materials to express the huge oppressions, upheavals, and hard-won freedoms that have been epitomised in our cities sprawl.’ (Tadjo 2002:4)

Predominantly focused on architectural and social landscapes, he has also drawn from more abstract references to comment on social conditions.  Koloane’s ‘Snarling Dogs’ (1993-1994) paintings, for example, draw on imagery of the township dog to express the extreme socio-economic conditions, and their psychosocial side effects surrounding him.

‘They are scavengers turning over rubbish bins.  Howling under the moonlight, sending shivers down the spines of the residents.  It is the primal fear of past nightmares, of a time without laws.  Unpredictable.  Terrifying.’ (Tadjo 2002:29)


Koloane’s latest series of dry point prints, ‘Wings of Freedom’, returns to an emotive expression of social conditions through the symbolism of township animals.  In this series, images of doves are used to explore the development of his personal relationship with ‘freedom’ in the new South Africa. Using his characteristically unrestrained marks, Koloane has developed a drypoint technique that captures the expressionistic essence of his paintings.  Working with a free hand, Koloane focuses on creating energy in his prints rather than restricting himself to life-like renditions of his subjects.

1938 - 06/30/2019
Nationality: South Africa
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