Born in Soweto in 1966, Andrew Tshabangu’s photography has received critical acclaim across the globe.
His work has been exhibited internationally and is renowned for documenting the daily rituals of black communities in urban Africa. A selection of Tshabangu’s photographic works have been curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe and will be exhibited at the Standard Bank Gallery from 18 February to 29 April 2017. Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints is an exhibition that assembles a selected body of Andrew Tshabangu’s photographs spanning more than 20 years. As an attentive observer, Tshabangu is drawn to ordinary subjects and their nuanced intricacies. His photographs are saturated with a sense of quietness that captures the human spirit – a spirit of hope, courage and determination.
Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints narrates a series of impressions that Tshabangu has thus far generated during his daily excursions as well as through his photographs. These are footprints in the photographic depictions of township scenes; street vendors and taxi commuters found in the city; spiritual and religion worshippers in different sacred sites. There are also family spaces and hostels of migrant workers, moments in rural dwellings, occasions of fishing and leisure time at the seaside. They are Tshabangu’s encounters in Soweto, Joburg, Ngome, Durban, Maputo, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, Guyana, Réunion Island, London, Berlin and New York.
In Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints, an exhibition comprised of a photographic series, Tshabangu invites viewers to embark on a visual journey to various locations and moments, where he explores and documents activities of everyday life, transitions and metamorphoses of the townships, the metropolitan city and rural areas. Offered are meditative depictions of black people, the homey places they inhabit and those spaces they navigate in their daily rituals and mission to make ends meat. An emphasis is on the sensibilities of their ordinariness, executed in ways in which Tshabangu makes them the center of representation, endows them with a value such that we could see and discover their humanness. These depictions are sensitive in mode, photographed in Tshabangu’s black and white signature, at once a social documentary genre but also poetic and expressive in its magic realism, particularly as visual representations concerned with the broader realm of life experience and human desire.
As an attentive observer, Tshabangu is drawn into ordinary subjects and their nuanced intricacies. Thus his photographs are saturated with a sense of quietness which is somewhat penetrating and absorbing in the manner in which the complexities of the ordinary people and everyday rituals are framed and captured. The potency of Tshabangu’s photographs lies in his decisive search for and discovery of how to make present the human spirit in pictorial representation. For he has managed, without eliding their vulnerability, to capture their spirit of hope through an aesthetic resolve in whose subtlety signals the steady spiritual fortitude of black people who daily confront socio-economic challenges in a society wrestling with transformation, freedom and equality.
Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints curates Tshabangu’s photographs whose significance is not just about witnessing but also analysis and vision, not about denouncing but revealing and empowering. It is the meaning and value of black people, their courage and determination that Tshabangu translates and interprets. The exhibition is a narrative of Tshabangu’s photographic trajectory whose focus is not on despondency or pessimism but faith, hope and endurance all speaking to the bearable lightness of being black in the world.
Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints | Standard Bank Gallery | Cnr Frederick and Harrison Streets | Johannesburg | 18 Feb – 29 Apr 2017 | Weekdays | 08:00 – 16:30 | Saturdays | 09:00 – 13:00 | Standard Bank Gallery will be participating in First Thursdays and will be open untill 21:00 0n 2 March and 6 April 2017 | Tel: 011 631 4467 | Webpage