Asanda Kupa

Molteno, Eastern Cape, South Africa, 1981

Asanda Kupa is a rising talent amongst South African painters. He was born in Molteno, in the Eastern Cape and has always been drawn to the illustrative arts. Kupa’s work is grounded by the experiences of those forced to the periphery of ‘The New South Africa’; despite its great re-birth. The artist is concerned with how the new political regime has failed its people – the very people who brought it to power through their own sacrifice – whilst also celebrating the self-determining spirit that marks a long history of civic action. Protest, civic action and occupation, spurred by grass-roots community community movement and unity, is a central theme of his work. Kupa’s expressive mark making and abstraction of the human form creates a vivid and moving body of work that seems to explore change, progression and alteration through the language of narrative painting in a uniquely abstract manner. His gestural works command a great presence in each space they can be found and his investment of time, energy and emotion as well as immense skill becomes apparent. When working with paint, Kupa brings incredible energy to his figures – human or animal – through a layering of pigment over blacked-out canvases. The effect is a mass of murky yet dynamic forms that vividly express movement and atmosphere. In Kupa’s work, dense, moody landscapes are also haunted scenes; the figures are anonymous types, brimming with emotion.

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