Looking to see in colour

By Kevin du Plessis, mixed medium on 100 % cotton artist’s paper.


I’ve been working on a series called ‘Colour Blind’ inspired by a sociology class I interpreted earlier this year. “I am colour blind,” a young student said, “everyone is the same to me.” I immediately recognised this argument from various other cultural debates and formed the opinion that such a notion does not resonate with our multi-cultural nation. ‘Colour Blind’ focuses on 8 different people’s ‘racial history’, so to speak, depicting their backgrounds in ink illustrations while the artwork shows only one colour, skin colour.

Flowing from this on going project comes ‘Looking to see in colour’. This work explores the continuing need for South Africans to engage socially and otherwise with different cultures, albeit a difficult process met with discomfort, and even disapproval.

The title encompasses what the work is about: looking, seeing, and colour. Dealing with perceptions and projections, and a personal struggle in learning to be comfortable in situations that ought not to be uncomfortable, the work looks to engage the observer into its own observations. As I started travelling into the bowels of Johannesburg I realised that I was being watched and that I was also looking back. I caught some of those expressions and relayed them as I saw them looking, while I was trying to see, in this work. ‘Looking to see in colour’ is meant to present an open seat to whomever is willing to sit.

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