Um Xhosa, 2019 by Kgalalelo Gaitate, Drawing: Aquarelle Coloring Pencils and Acrylic Paint. 25 x 19 in. (63.5 x 48.3 cm)
This series, Amaqhawe, consists of artworks that celebrate South Africans of Xhosa heritage. The translation of amaqhawe is heroes, and so aptly describes uTata Madiba and Mam’ Winnie Mandela who are featured in this series. The Eastern Cape has a long and rich history of artistic expression, and Xhosa traditional dress in all its regal grandeur makes for a wealth of weighty Afrocentric art reference. I have incorporated Ndebele wall art in the backgrounds of some of the artwork to explore the interconnectedness of our cultures. By illustrating the portraits in monochrome hues and using bright colored backgrounds, I seek to capture the richness of our multicultural ancestry and spark a cultural dialogue.
Kgalalelo Gaitate is a self-taught female South African visual and corporate artist. From the very tender age of three, her parents and crèche teachers noticed an embedded creative nature which she was encouraged to nurture. Teaching herself to draw, from various disciplines such as observing television cartoons, coloring books, illustrated story books, magazines and actual people, she finally began to draw in pen, as she found this medium to be much more striking than pencil. Honing her gift at the National School of the Arts High School, she was exposed to various media: watercolor, gouache, oil paint, etching and marbling. She has taken part in various group exhibitions with Mashumi Art Projects, a gallery located on Nelson Mandela’s Home Street, and the world renowned Vilakazi Street as well as at the Cape Best Milan for the Salone Mobile Internazionale, Eyethu Gallery in Mofolo, Soweto and Kalahari Art Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, Afropolitan Gallery, Julie Miller Gallery and has been an art panelist for Prelude-To-The-Shed Hudson Yards, NY. She has also done corporate art for Genesis Analytics and Royal HaskoningDHV, and is currently administering the Ubuciko Artist Career Development Programme for Pareto Limited. Her Heritage series is part of an ongoing exhibition at Edikeni Restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg. Possessing an incredible eye for detail, she specializes in portraiture, working primarily with oil pastels, ballpoint pen, copic markers and acrylic paint. Her subject matter is inspired by South African traditional dress and on various aspects of numerous subcultures throughout the South African Terrain.