Sandile Radebe

Sandile is a Johannesburg based artist whose main area of interest is art practice in both, public and private spaces. Sandile explores these spaces through stimulating a new reading of graffiti and more broadly the way language works to help construct our realities. The artist visualises graffiti in abstract sculptural forms instead of alphabetic lettering. He populates gallery spaces with installations created from these forms which, in their labyrinthine structures, imaginatively evoke the artist’s own experience of walking through Johannesburg. The viewer is encouraged to think about graffiti and indeed language in a new way while conjuring the city ‘out there’ through a creative gallery navigation in time and space.

Sandile studied BAFA(Honours) at Wits School of the Arts in from 2002 till 2006. In 2009 he also studied for a PGDA in Arts and Cultural Management from Wits School of the Arts. Sandile has participated in various group exhibitions including Basha Uhuru’ curated by Kalishnikovv Gallery (June 2013), he collaborated with Mandy Johnston for ‘Diptych’ curated by Assemblage (September 2013). He has also executed public interventions ‘Lest We Forget’ at the Drill Hall, Johannesburg, in collaboration with Jabulani Matthews Tshuma (February 2014) as well as an installation intervention ‘Graphoasis’ (May 2014) and 'Graphoasis II' (May 2015) at Afrika Burn in collaboration with Elgin Rust . Fresh produce group show as part of the Turbine Art Fair (July 2014) ‘One Day Aprenticeship’ with Elvis as part of OPENLab2014 residency in Modern Arts Projects, Richmond, Northern Cape (July 2014), Amaze Festival playful interventions done collaboratively, facililated by OneDotZero (September 2014). In October 2014 Sandile had a solo exhibition titled ‘A Walk In The City’ at National School of the Arts, Braamfontein curated by Kim Gurney. He also made ‘Colour Me In’ site specific intervention for Infecting the City (March 2015). participated in 'Socio-political dynamics of postcolonial cities in Southern Africa' WISER online exhibition facilitated by Guns and Rain (April 2015). 'Winter, A Group Exhibition' at Everard Read, Cape Town (June 2015). a mentor at the Amaze Festival playful intervention collaborations, facilitated by OneDotZero (September 2015).'Homage' at Everard Read, Cape Town (September 2015).Recently he has been commissioned by the City of Cape Town and Rabie Properties to design an artwork for a My Citi bus station in Century City, Cape Town(June 2015). In February 2013 Sandile was invited to give a talk at the Goethe Institut’s ‘New Imaginaries/ New Publics’ symposium facilitated by the AAC. Sandile recently co-curated a group show titled 'Post-African' with Amber-Jade Geldenhuys and MC Roodt at Mzansi Gallery (July 2015).

My rendition of graffiti is in one sense not graffiti at all. It is more an exploration of how language works to help construct our realities. Ultimately the intention is to explore the aesthetics in written text through the use and manipulation of prime shapes that make up the core elements of our Roman Alphabet. I explore how we read, imagine and engage with our city spaces through creating ambiguous letter forms that make up this imagined city. Sometimes I create an imagined location, to re-enact my experience of walking the city reading graffiti and translate this into three-dimensional form that invites the viewer to do the same.

One might recall Kazimir Malevich’s red square (1915) and white square as total detachment from anything figurative. Similarly, our alphabet makes no reference to the natural world and therefore its meaning is attributed rather than inherent. It is an abstract series of codes assembled and then attributed over time with meaning that accrues to establish a literary sense. My aim is to reconfigure these attributed values in pursuit of developing a new graffiti language devoid of stigma.

Graffiti works conventionally aim to create awareness about the socio-political climate through slogans. In South Africa, graffiti had political ends, virtually all the time. My work engages these politics of public space that have now arguably shifted to access of space: this ranges from trading purposes like street vendors or minibus taxi owners’ negotiating for taxi routes or merely walking freely within the city.

--Sandile Radebe, July 2015

  • Sandile Radebe
  • Sandile Radebe
  • Sandile Radebe
  • Sandile Radebe
  • Sandile Radebe