The recent opening of visual artist Thina Dube’s new solo exhibition Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow at the Guns and Rain Gallery in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, caused quite a stir. His works on the walls of the beautiful and intimate gallery, which opened its doors in 2018, were an eye-opener for many. Dube’s visual language is quite unique — he has a rare ability to portray and interrogate complex contemporary issues afflicting SA in a manner that is unusually easy on the eye and the mind. After a close look at the works, the first instinct is to be lulled into comfort — they seem innocent and beautiful enough to add glamour to any home. But then the apparent innocence slowly disappears and Dube’s yearning to clinically dissect SA’s complex and sometimes contested legacies of colonialism and apartheid emerges.

Like many young artists, Dube is bold and vocal in his pursuit of art that deals with identity issues. But unlike Ayanda Mabulu there is no confrontational, in-your-face rag...

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