Gerald Tabata (b.1975) attended the Thupelo International Programme, Cape Town, South Africa in 2005. Tabata’s history places him firmly within the framework of his artworks speaking to place, time and social politics. Whether waiting for a taxi, walking down the street, or waiting for the world to turn, Tabata captures these moments like a visual story-teller or documenter.
The subjects that people his canvases, although framed by circumstances of poverty, carry on about their business of life; while some of the figures have become reduced to an anonymous symbol, they are not a caricature. The subjects do not engage with the viewer, in many instances the subject has their back turned, or is walking away, out of the picture frame, excluding the viewer from the narrative of their life. Tabata states, “As artists we stand for the people, we are the voice of the masses, we cannot keep quiet or pretend things are ok whilst they are not. We should expose poverty and make it our responsibility to let the world know our backyard problems.”
Working in a refined, painterly technique with a thoughtful use of colour, Tabata is concerned primarily with evoking the mood and atmosphere of the township scenes synonymous to African culture. Critics have commented that his work has the touch of Rembrandt; with seductive impasto paint he sculpts figures using colour sparingly. Gerald has found himself a studio in Observatory, Cape Town where he lives out his childhood dream of being an artist.