Colbert Mashile was born in 1972 in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga Province, South Africa. Mashile started his academic career in Pretoria, where the city influenced him tremendously. He later went on to build his academic career at the Art Foundation and further on, a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand. Mashile has risen to fame, both nationally and internationally as his work infuses a natural and mystical sensibility, while combining them with his subjective historical background. He fully engages himself in the process of calling forth his imagination in order to realise the subjects that are part of a long history of experiences and profound stories.
A glance, a voice or a specific action by an individual inspires within his mind, a symbolic response as a gesture that attempts to understand and furthermore convey a personal insight into what he sees and experiences. He makes use of fantastical creatures that may contain seemingly political overtones but they do not necessarily reside fully within in that space. Figures appear shrouded, mysteriously hampered by their attire, masked by their baggage and hampered by peculiar tools.
These fantastical figures in his artwork are an interpretation of various characterisations of human nature, manifesting as carefully constructed half-human, half-animal beings. It is this quiet reflection on aspects of culture, distinctly linked to Mashile’s understanding of the socio-political world that he occupies that is profoundly effective in this body of work.