October 3, 2017

Tsoka's Happenings

        Here’s a cool linoleum block print I saw at the Davis Museum (Wellesley College) last week as part of a small exhibit on recent South African printmaking.  David Tsoka (South Africa, b. 1992) is a member of Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg and this piece, unlike the others in the exhibition, echoes and carries on the long tradition of South African linocuts.  However, Tsoka definitely brings his own, modern vibe to it.  For one thing, this piece is quite large, about 3x2 feet.  But even more so, its imagery borrows not so much from a consciously African aesthetic, as many of the South African block printmakers did in the mid twentieth century, but from large-scale sculpture, comic book illustrations, sci fi movies, and even Transformers.  Also, while the title All Things Began to Happen seems from the explosion of imagery in the piece like it might be a reference to the Big Bang, in fact Tsoka says it also refers to his own birth, and the beginning of his own life.  The piece is, in fact, about “the journey of life.”  Tsoka says that the gear-like shapes evoke the idea of the passage of time because the rusting of metal shows time.  I would think that gears also evoke time because of their reference to clockwork.
        I certainly don’t know what all the little scenes and elements of the piece refer to, but I really like the texture and vibrancy of it.  The wide variety of blade marks create a pleasing balance of shades, and the mostly abstract shapes evoke a variety of possible images.  It seems as if it’s about to resolve itself into recognizable scenes, but it never quite does.  Does it depict chaos in an orderly way, or order in a chaotic way?  And maybe that’s about right for life: all those little random moments simultaneously scattered and connected, coming together into a cohesive big picture despite there being no single obvious path or focal point.

[Picture: All Things Began to Happen, linocut by David Tsoka, 2013 (Photo by AEGN, Davis Museum).]

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