Silicone’s versatility is a major draw for 24-year-old Zimbabwean artist Troy Makaza. “It does not confine me to a particular discipline,” he said. “I can paint or sculpt with it. I can create a wide spectrum of colors and textures, which are permanently flexible. It is a very playful medium, and play is key to my approach to making work.”
At first, Makaza’s works appear to be colorful, wall-mounted tapestries—twists, tangles, and droops of bright yellow, gray, and red threads. Upon closer examination, however, the “threads” reveal themselves to be squiggles of silicone-infused paint. The compositions, then, combine elements of painting, sculpture, and traditional craftwork. Their sheen and slick texture make them distinctly contemporary, even as they reference age-old art forms.
Yet Makaza’s ideas extend far beyond material innovations. “The flexibility, adaptability, and resilience of the medium also speak very strongly to how I see our lives here in Zimbabwe, navigating changing circumstances and balancing traditional modes and contemporary realities,” he said. Geopolitical concerns are especially evident in Dislocation of Content, Part 1 (2017), which resembles a tattered, misshapen red flag, and its sister piece, Dislocation of Content, Part 3 (2017), which looks—with its fields of different hues bumping against each other—like a fractured topography.