Popping up on numerous creative radars, Dada Khanyisa aka The Mighty Whale is propelling herself forward in the South African creative industry. A recent graduate from Michaelis School of Fine Art, the multi-faceted artist has already begun showing her sculptural paintings on big stages such as the FNB Art Fair in 2017 with Stevenson Gallery. The creative outputs are varied; from fine art to reconstructed custom sneakers, to tattoos, to murals (if you’re in Joburg peep the mural just completed at Constitutional Hill). Seemingly, at the centre of all these activities is a formal language that reflects the youth and street culture of young black South Africans. This formal language has it’s influences no doubt, but it’s clear that hours on hours of work have gone into refining Dada’s style. As her website states; “I paint as much as I sculpt and draw twice as much as I illustrate digitally.”
A recent venture is a custom kicks project aptly titled ‘Conversations.’ An extension of Dada’s vast project of reconstructing sneakers to create custom kicks, this project focuses on reconstructed Converse sneakers and plays on the title to suggest it being open ended and not limited simply to a single narrative. A video made in collaboration with Chris Kets, Chawezi and Stiff Pap went public on Facebook, celebrating the artform of custom sneakers, and highlighting Cape Town’s rich house party scene, which serves as an inspiration for some of Dada’s paintings.
The combination of fine art and fashion is nothing new, yet with Dada’s work it seems to take a fresh approach. Perhaps this is due to the particular narratives which gain exposure and are fore-fronted through her work, and perhaps it’s simply the vibrant and exciting ways in which the designs are executed and characters rendered? Either way, I’ll be taking 2018 to save for a pair of her custom kicks to treat myself with next Christmas.
Watch the video here: