“You see their eyes glowing in the dark and you fear them because you know they are there but you don’t know when they might attack.”1
Highly esteemed as an artist, David Koloane is well known for his long-term project depicting feral township dogs. His earliest depictions from his “mgodoyi”’ series date from the late 1980s and offer a potent metaphor of black life. The dogs are not fixed by one interpretation. Emblematic of life under apartheid, “when black people were treated like stray dogs that had no place and no origin,” Koloane’s dogs also speak to the violence that has historically racked township life, by outside agents as much as gangsters: “You see their eyes glowing in the dark and you fear them because you know they are there but you don’t know when they might attack,”1 said Koloane. In a 2005 review of his Cape Town exhibition, critic Ivor Powell described Koloane as “one of the important artists in recent decades,” in particular for the way he yokes his earlier interest in abstract expressionism in service of “rendering up the forms and textures of a peculiarly South African township experience.”2
1 Heather Dugmore, The Mystery of Life, www.ru.ac.za, 31 May 2015.
2 Ivor Powell, David Koloane, Art South Africa Vol. 4.2 Summer 2005, page 72.
Ashraf Jamal and Sue Williamson. (1996) Art in South Africa: The Future Present, Cape Town: David Philip. Page 56.