Love of lines draws artist to the top

CityPress - - News - TSHEPO LESOLE tshepo.lesole@me­

In 2006, Atang Tshikare was tag­ging sur­faces in Manch­ester in the UK, keep­ing to the up­per floors to dodge the po­lice.

The Bloem­fontein man was un­em­ployed, stuck in the Bri­tish city af­ter a job he had been promised fell through.

Graf­fiti was some­thing he knew and loved. By the time he had left South Africa in late 2005 his tag, Ink, was a com­mon sight on Bloem­fontein’s walls.

“To avoid be­ing caught tag­ging in the UK, I got into the habit of do­ing graf­fiti from el­e­vated po­si­tions – the sec­ond floor up­wards, over the cops’ heads,” re­calls the 34-year-old artist. For the first time, he “saw build­ings from above – lines, straight lines”.

A decade on, his love for straight lines and the lessons he learnt in the UK have helped make Tshikare one of South Africa’s fast-ris­ing de­sign­ers.

The re­cent fruit of his col­lab­o­ra­tion with a fur­ni­ture maker – a bench – sold for R65 000 in Dubai.

Tshikare bagged the 2014 Fu­ture Found Award at the De­sign Ind­aba and, as a re­sult, is com­plet­ing a six-week res­i­dency at the 12 Decades Jo­han­nes­burg Art Ho­tel in the city’s trendy Mabo­neng Precinct.

His bench, his style and his pres­ence at the re­cent 100% De­sign SA show at Gal­lagher Con­ven­tion Cen­tre in Midrand, north of Joburg, scored him another big job: turn­ing a couch into a work of art for a Euro­pean fur­ni­ture com­pany. “They saw the Dubai bench and called the pho­tog­ra­pher. When I saw the couch, I knew the kind of pat­terns that would work well on it. What makes my ex­pres­sion orig­i­nal is that my meth­ods are some­thing I have never seen any­where else. My work is like no one else’s,” he says.

Tshikare says he never com­pletes his strokes, a de­lib­er­ate stylis­tic twist to “in­volve the imag­i­na­tion of some­one look­ing at the body of work, to in­ter­pret and com­plete it in his head”.

To get in­spi­ra­tion, he sim­ply looks at the ob­ject he’s about to work on. “It is an oc­cur­rence in­formed mainly by the amount of space I have, and the sur­face.”

That creative process man­i­fests on couches, benches, takkies for Adi­das Orig­i­nals in Cape Town, bi­cy­cles, wall­pa­per and posters.

There may be some ge­net­ics at play, too. His fa­ther writes comic books and Tshikare has al­ways ad­mired his work.

Atang Tshikare with one of his de­signs

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