What is township art and why is it unique?

Township art are both two dimensional and three dimensional works

African art is a unique genre that encompasses both two-dimensional paintings and three-dimensional sculptures. However, there is a style of African art that establishes itself as a mix between the two. It is neither entirely two-dimensional nor three-dimensional, but a clever mix of painting and flat sculpture that will intrigue the viewer for hours. It is called township art.

This style involves painting township scenes on a canvas – the sky and background, often including mountains and birds, are painted in bright colours that mimic African sunsets. The people are also painted by hand – long a slender in their style, which gives township art a unique character. However, the buildings and homes are constructed from scrap aluminium and nailed onto the canvas, adding a three-dimensional element to the artwork.

These detailed works of art are carefully handcrafted and no two pieces are the same. Molo Wethu has two examples of township art for sale on its online store. Due to the unique nature of these three-dimensional paintings, we cannot guarantee that the work delivered to your door will be exactly the same as the ones depicted on our website.

Township art reflects real life

The scenes portrayed in these three-dimensional paintings often reflect real townships in South Africa. They depict a stylised snapshot of real life in these vibrant communities, showing us an interpretation of the artist’s connection with the people and energy in the townships. They often feature landmarks in the background, such as Cape Town’s famous Table Mountain or Johannesburg’s notorious city skyline.

The houses in the artworks make use of upcycled metals and beverage cans. The shiny silver side of the cans is often used to depict the metal houses that are synonymous with township dwellings. Alternatively, the artists sometimes use the colourful exterior of cans to show the vibrancy of popular hangouts, such as bars, eateries and grocery stores in the townships.

Bustling communities are depicted

In the foreground of township art, regular activities are depicted that portray the busy lifestyle of residents. Children playing football, mothers carrying water, fathers riding bicycles, people dancing together – these are common scenes in township life and are commonly shown on these bespoke paintings. Some artworks will also feature chickens and dogs as authentic representations of life in South African communities.

The buildings are often labelled too. Some popular hangouts in the townships have grown to notoriety, whilst others have quirky names that make them icons in their own respect. These buildings are commonly included in township art as they have significance to their respective communities. They lend a definite tactile element to the paintings too, which makes for an interesting interaction with first-time observers.

Owning one of these three-dimensional township artworks will bring colour and joy into your home. They reflect the unique nature of life on this beautiful continent and will certainly be a talking point for your friends, family and visitors. These paintings also work perfectly as interior decor for offices and commercial spaces that want to add a vibrant touch to the walls.

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To learn more about Molo Wethu and our bespoke African artworks, please do not hesitate to contact us. Molo Wethu sources, collects and distributes a variety of unique African paintings and sculptures. Visit our online store to purchase these artworks for your home or office – they are ideal for art collectors, travellers and gift-givers.

Molo Wethu supports the needs of differently-abled humans. A portion of the sales from selected products will be donated to organisations that help children with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome in South Africa. This also helps to raise awareness of mental health issues in Africa. 

We are able to deliver artworks around the world. To stay up-to-date with the latest news and Molo Wethu product launches, follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Take a look at our blog for more informative articles on African art, empowering artists and mental health.

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