Destreet as his name would suggest is one of this country’s budding street artists. This self taught artist on the mark of 5 years in the industry, decided to grace us with a showcase of his finest on the 23rd of February. Displaying his old as well as new work, he was stationed at the back of the national theatre amidst the loud tunes governing pop radio today.
I was expecting a much bigger display with a fussier and more diverse crowd. (This was largely because of the street art festival that the national theatre has hosted before). My disappointment however, was immediately checked by the fact that this was a single artist’s showcase as opposed to a multitude of them. With my expectations newly aligned, it was remarkable how much diversity this one artist had to offer.
The first thing that caught my eye was the ‘old school’ canvas footwear stationed at the front with the splashed on paint. If you’ve been to any art festivals around town, you have seen these; the easily recognizable brand of ‘all stars’ covered in splashing and printings of paint. I had previously wondered at the originator of this brave brand of commercial art, it was good to finally cross that off the list of things I didn’t know.
Already inclined in his favor, I went on to view his older works which were predominantly textiles, more specifically hand printed T- shirts. These came in a large collection and it would be impossible to fail to find something suited to one’s taste. The shirts bore largely patriotic themes and had a heavy focus on culture, the African culture I mean. It is no wonder; his appeal crosses over into an international market. It is a tribute to his heritage and an education for anyone interested.
The newer works however, where the central attraction of the day. These were a set of paintings done on canvas. Oil paint would be his weapon of choice and the occasional dabble with water paint for added texture.
I often find it difficult to critic art, in the sense of whether it is good or bad. Art, by definition is subjective and to demand so strictly that an artist remains within the confines of one’s taste is a gross injustice. That said, I have heard many the art critic, remark on their reluctance to buy into the whole ‘façade’ that is abstract art, claiming an abstract artist not proficient enough in the conventional art sphere isn’t artist enough in their own right.
Destreet has somehow managed to toe the line of balance by infusing abstract qualities in a largely conventional medium. Leaving his credibility unscathed while simultaneously attempting to color outside the lines and achieve a progressive element for the more eclectic tastes.
I was most impressed by his use of color, a skill that shouldn’t be lacking in an African artist as that is what often sets them apart from the rest of the pack. Paintings like water for life, community life, and This Is Africa (T.I.A), are just some of those robust with color.
Just as well, almost dinnertime one of my favorites hones in on the familiar activity of food preparation featuring two ladies pounding away at their mortars. The motion in the picture is notably captured, thus making the picture come alive. Plus, the stipulate nature of the work is illustrated in his ingenious portrayal of the carelessly clad women in their state of near undress, with their torsos exposed in careless nonchalance.
As established, he is a master with color; nonetheless, his work suffered nothing in the absence of it. Arguably a lot of the standout pieces of the day were in the black and white collection.
I am no fine artist, so when I observe art, the yard stick on what is good and bad is usually found in the emotional response it provokes, and I caught myself gazing at certain pieces and gawking at others. The painting love for example, introduced the delicate sentiment of intimacy and provided a welcome change of pace. It showed lovers sitting side by side on a beach against then back drop of the setting sun and a tranquil ocean.
An interesting concept I noticed in his work was that, a few pieces appeared to be imitations of others. One could hardly miss the emphasis it lent to communicating these themes to the observer. On the other hand, a few others seemed to be continuations, so that a semblance of a story was created without words.
As promised the day ended with poetry and music and true to the niche street art has created for itself, the influence of the hip hop culture was apparent yet again.
This impressive collection of art is on its way to Europe, and I know they must be some amongst you eager to see it. Seeing that they will not be any chance at a viewing soon, I thought you would be happy to know I got an address for you. Plot 623, Mawanda Road- Kamwokya, also www.destreetaert.webs.com and if you just want to call him up its (0)779 339 911.