Colbert Mashile

colbert mashile south african artist

Colbert Mashile was born in 1972 in Bushbuckridge in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. Mashile says, "I come from a place that is shrouded by powerful cultural norms and customs". These customs, such as the ritual of circumcision (which both he and his wife have undergone), informed his earliest work, and he sought refuge and healing through art.

Colbert Mashile explores the psychological impact of traditional circumcision and initiation rituals on initiates. He also explores the often problematic narratives of collective cultural determinants within these communities. As Mashile has matured, the psychological underpinnings are still evident, but his imagery has transgressed these limitations to begin addressing issues such as home, language and the natural landscape.

Mashile comes from a family of teachers and was expected to join the family trend on completion of high school. While studying in Pretoria he became curious about the art that he saw in gallery windows on the streets of Pretoria. This led him to the Johannesburg Art Foundation and then to a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand.

Colbert Mashile has risen to prominence on both national and international level. His work is infused with the natural and mystical elements that are part of his physical and psychological environment. In nearly every work, what emerges is a subtle tension between an invasive nature and a sense of serenity. It is this dichotomy that is so engaging.

Mashile has an uncanny ability to "tune into" universal psychological archetypes in his work. These images are completely based in his African identity and yet they link up with the universal. His horned figures that loom over men, coffin-like vehicles and vast landscapes fill his prints. Mashile's fine sense of colour compliments his forms, which seem to celebrate a connection to the earth.

Mystical figures, phallic images, pods, huts and organic shapes are but some of the visual stimuli, which abound in Mashile's recent work. Minuscule figures stand unobtrusively atop high structures surrounded by open fields.

Mashile, a quiet individual, reflects on his use of symbols and icons. He comments that it simply shows the "truth about the land and its people and thus my existence in South Africa". This poignant statement reflects someone who has a clear understanding of the prevalent issues in South Africa. Mashile has found an individual way in which to communicate his own concerns and those of society as a whole, and he does so in a remarkable manner. His work references various elements of more traditional art-production techniques (printmaking and painting). But, within this production, he isolates the personal narrative as the loudest voice within a cacophony of layers of meaning and reference.

Artists A - L

Artists M - X

Colbert Mashile, lithographs


The artist talks about making monotypes (video)


Colbert Mashile archive


New Editions

Monotypes

Baboons

Colbert Mashile believes animals have human traits. He says that in African culture animals are allocated various characteristics but he chooses to focus on their personalities “For example in African culture baboons are associated with bad things, including witchcraft. But its personality is that it has a good memory and a strong character”. The focus in these monotypes are baboons, topical given the current national discourse on race.

Mashile is fearless in his views of what South Africa has and has not achieved since 1994 and despairs at the socio-political and socio-economic realities of the country. He is keenly aware of the hypocrisy of the country’s current leadership and is troubled by the continued poverty and inequality that is still so much in evidence. These prints comment on current realities in a darkly humorous manner. The titles say it all.

Title: The First Witness I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The First Witness II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Revenant II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Revenant III
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The American Book Designer I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: SOLD


Title: The American Book Designer II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The American Book Designer III
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: SOLD


Title: The Anthropologist I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Anthropologist II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Anthropologist III
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Time Keeper I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Time Keeper II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Time Keeper II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Drunken Master I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Drunken Master II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Title: The Drunken Master III
Medium: Monotype
Size: 105 x 75cm
Price: R 13 500 (excl.VAT)


Caterpillars

With the print titles Mashile plays with notions of language and scientific classification. Using a list of actual species names as inspiration he creates his own, with a heavy dose of humour. Enjoy!

Each is a unique print and exists in no other form. Traditionally the numbers I and II indicate the order that the prints were made in, with II being the "ghost" print (i.e. printed from the ink that remained on the plate after the first one was pulled). The "ghost" print often has additional work added to it. Mashile has toyed with this order in some of the prints, making the "ghost" print number I.

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Title: Bombycidae (Bewildered)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 50 x 65cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Bombycidae (Marching)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 50 x 65cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Grammodora (with a kink)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Gynanisa (After the storm)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 50 x 65cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Pselaphelia and the M.E.C
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Xanthahoe (Bloated)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 50 x 65cm
SOLD

Earlier monotypes

colbert mashile fine art prints

Title: Doc's Meat II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

Title: Doc's Mistress II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Empty Thoughts I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: The Glutton I
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: The Glutton II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 65 x 50cm
Price: R 7 000 (excl.VAT)

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Title: The Prospect II
Medium: Monotype
Size: 76 x 57cm
Price: R 8 500 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Mohlolo Waka II (My Suprise)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 76 x 57cm
Price: R 8 500 (excl.VAT)

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Title: Masebotsana I (Beautiful Lady)
Medium: Monotype
Size: 76 x 57cm
Price: SOLD