Supa-Supa-baloi by Colbert Mashile (1972 -  )
Supa-Supa-baloi, 2004, oil on board, 710 x 610 mm

Colbert Mashile (1972 - )


About the artwork


In Supa-Supa-baloi, Mashile merges traditional and contemporary African symbols in vibrant colours, allowing a ‘magical’ reality to exude from the painted surface. According to the artist, “the title of the work Supa-Supa-Baloi refers to the malicious way of pointing the index finger to a person who's accused for some alleged crime” (Mashile 2012).


The context of the narrative refers to a particular crime of witchcraft or some superstitious possession of powers with intent to cause harm (Mashile 2012). In addition to this, Mashile explains that it is difficult to explain these cultural conducts to outsiders, since “it is so deeply imbedded in tradition and folklore, which a person has to be familiar with first-hand” (Mashile 2012).



About Mashile’s art


Mashile mostly aims to isolate and highlight his own personal narrative within the layers of meaning and references within his paintings. 


Mashile’s work deals with tradition, customs and rituals as well as attitudes which are prevalent in an African society. As a young boy, Mashile underwent circumcision rituals that caused emotional trauma and as a result he sought refuge and healing through his art. He explored the psychological impact of traditional circumcision and initiation rituals on initiates, as well as the collective cultural beliefs within these communities. As Mashile has matured, the psychological underpinnings are still evident, but his imagery has moved past this and begins to address issues such as home, language and the natural landscape. He instills a mystical quality to natural elements observed from his surroundings. Motifs such as huts, pods, horns and ethnic textile pattern often figure as part of his visual language. Through his paintings he wishes to reveal a type of truth about the land, its people and his existence in South Africa.



Mashile’s background 


Colbert Mashile was born in 1972 in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. Mashile hecompleted his BA Fine Arts at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2000. He started experimenting with printmaking and in 2003 began to work with the printers at David Krut Print Workshop.  After spending time in Johannesburg, he left the city as he disliked the township life style, to set up home and studio in Buffelshoek village, in Bushbuckridge, where he could 'feel and experience his Africanness, let emotions come through and discover the truth about himself’ (Mashile: 2012).



References website. Colbert Mashile Cirriculam Vitae. [O] Available

[Accessed 27th December 2013]


David Krut Printing. Colbert Mashile Biography. [O] Available 

[Accessed 27th Dcember 2013]


Mashile, C. Artist’s insight into his work in the Saronsberg Collection. (Personal Communications October 2012).