Born just 1, 832 kilometers away in Maputo, Mozambique and based here in Johannesburg, South Africa, Isaac Zavale known better as Zacatwork is a visual artist that dabbles back and forth between painting, print making and drawing. His artworks are ingrained with social and political issues of South Africa that are left to us to decode. His artistry, from murals, prints to fine arts have a distinctive art style that is majorly influenced by Ghanaian and South African barbershop and tuck shop signage and drawings.
I was fortunate enough to drop by Goethe Institut on a Thursday afternoon to chat to Isaac and ask him 10 questions about his arts, being in the art industry and his inspirations.
1. This question is a bit cliche, but how would you describe Isaac Zavale in five words?
Active, happy, creative, thoughtful and critical thinker.
2. When did you get into the arts industry?
I started drawing in 1992, when I was about 4/5 years old, but I started practicing art formally in 2010.
3. What are your thoughts on the South African art industry currently?
(Sighs) I think the art industry in South Africa is growing and allowing more black communities to familiarize themselves with visual arts which is an amazing thing because black kids won’t have to feel discouraged from pursuing art careers.
4. What are your biggest influences?
My biggest influence is African sign writings, different spaces and environments I find myself in, politics and social issues.
5. Who are your favorite African artists of all time?
Daniel Album Jasper, Nicholas Hlobo and Minekulu Ngoyi.
6. How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
My work does not only comment on these two issues it focuses on them. My work focuses on social as well as political issues with the Afrocentric that is longing for Eurocentric.
7. What is the main message you hope your art sends out to the masses or rather what emotions you want your artworks to spark?
I want Africans to not let go of their identity, but to rather embrace their culture and beliefs with no fear or compromising to the western culture.
8. Is there a difference or similarity between the Mozambican and South African arts industry.
The differences are undeniably there. The are more opportunities to study arts and more opportunities for artists to get access to studios, galleries and exhibiting their art in South Africa. In Mozambique things are limited and the art industry depends on foreigns to keep in on-going.
9. How has COVID 19 influenced your work and the industry as a whole?
Covid-19 gave me a catalyst to work. It gave me time to work and establish a rhythm of creative direction and creating my artworks. It allowed me to create a series of body of works.
10. Lastly, how do you price your work?
I price my work based on the amount of time I put into the artwork and production.
Isaac will be exhibiting his new work on the 04th of September 2021 at Goethe Institut and I hope to see you there.