Khoikhoi stories as abstract pop art

A solo exhibition by contemporary artist Ade Kipades pays tribute to the stories told by the Khoikhoi through bold and colourful abstract art works that are both fun and serious in their intention of honouring this original South African tribe.

Entitled ‘Khoikhoi Pop’ this unique exhibition takes places at the RK Contemporary Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel from 02 September until end September.

The Inspiration
The Khoikhoi – which means ‘men of men’ or ‘the real people’ – were the first pastoralists or ‘herders’ in Southern Africa, and the first indigenous people to come into contact with the Dutch settlers in the Cape in the mid 17th century. As the Dutch took over land for farms, the Khoikhoi were eventually dispossessed, and their society and way of life disintegrated.

During this time, the Khoikhoi, who are known for their rich oral traditions and tales passed down from generation to generation, developed many stories depicting the situation between themselves and the Dutch – tales that are rich with satire, mockery and ridicule designed to undermine the settlers,” says Kipades, who explains that the Khoi satire drew upon the characteristics of certain animals that matched those of both Khoikhoi and settler attributes – such as the trickster Jackal, being the Khoikhoi, and the dominating Lion, being the settlers. “In the Khoikhoi stories collected by Thomas Baines and Leonhard Schultz, these two prominent characters emerged.”

Artwork on Exhibition
For this exhibition, Kipades used a technique developed by the Surrealists called automatic drawing which allows the artist to depict and express their subconscious. “In automatic drawing, the hand is allowed to move “randomly” across the paper and is thus to a large extent freed of rational control.”

I am drawing parallels between the fun element in Khoikhoi satire and my approach to constructing an abstract painting. I see my work as both fun and serious – and use playful lines, colors and shapes that form subtle optical tricks as if to mock the perception.”

Astrid McLeod, owner and curator of RK Contemporary says that she is very excited to see the final pieces on exhibit in the gallery. “Ade’s depiction of these Khoikhoi stories is a unique concept that has given rise to highly collectable art works that are connected to South African history.”

For more information on Khoikhoi Pop contact Astrid McLeod on 083 6533 697 or email


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