Public art builds civic pride

skubalisto---textWork in progress of skater Dlamini Dlamini, by Skubalisto. (Image and Video: Redbull Amaphiko)

Skubalisto produces art in and around the Cape Town township of Langa, whose work has attracted the eye of a renowned photographer.

During a Redbull Amaphiko street art sidestream in Langa, his work was noticed by Martha Cooper, one of the first photographers to document New York’s graffiti scene. During the sidestream, a public art activation showing members of the public and other artists what artists were doing in the area, Cooper gave a talk about her forthcoming exhibition on informal recyclers. It was completed in tandem with Brazilian artivist, Mundano.

“I loved Skubalisto’s work,” Cooper told Redbull Amaphiko, which describes itself as a “collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs”. “His painting style was fresh and unlaboured but his portraits were serious portrayals of people admired within the community where he was working. I felt his work deserved attention worldwide.”

Skubalisto has been painting in the streets of Langa for years and always looks at what will motivate.

“Before we paint, we think ‘what should we paint? What will motivate people?’ We’ve gone from murals of the kids we see around on the street to people from Kwa-Langa who are doing something – inspiring figures,” he said. “Themba Bavuma just made the South African team so we figured we’d shine some light on that and inspire young cricketers to keep pushing.”

He has also painted a mural of the late musician Brenda Fassie, who hailed from Langa.

“I recently painted a mural of Brenda Fassie. It was during her birthday week so I painted a big mural of her with Mundano. We did that on the house of some awesome family who were accommodating enough to let us paint on their walls without showing them what we were going to paint.”

IMPACT ON COMMUNITY

Skubalisto believes art has a very positive impact on the community. “It brings pride to an area and makes people realise they have something to be proud of,” he said. “If you paint in an area that’s used as dumping site, people’s attention is brought to that area so instead of being a dump site, people start beautifying it.

“There’s a spot Gugulethu where I painted murals and tried to do a little garden type thing. It was average. I came back a month later and people (had) put a bench there, they (had) planted trees. It’s a positive domino effect of art that I’ve been seeing.”

WHAT IS NEXT?

Skubalisto has major plans, which include some inspiring ideas around Langa.

“I’m working on some illustrations for a book by the NDP and painting walls like crazy with my brothers from The Crate Collective. I’m also working on some one-off furniture and functional art pieces with Sisonke. We’re also getting ready to open our café/gallery in Langa so we’re building most of the furniture in-house,” he said.

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