Dave Robertson is a Cape Town-based artist who has been producing artwork and exhibiting since the mid-90s. Initially known for his charged documentary photography, the artist now focuses on creating paintings that move beyond portraying reality. Driven by a synthesis of gestural brushstrokes and expressive smears, he offers viewers a liminal space of something that was and is becoming.
Dave Robertson’s Early Career
Born in Zimbabwe in 1961, Dave spent the early part of his journey as an artist in the film industry freelancing as an art director. In between film projects, he followed his passion for photography, documenting marginalised lifestyles as a form of social commentary. In 2010, Dave won a national prize for his Paper Trails documentary project - a piece investigating recyclers in Newtown, Johannesburg - at the Spier Contemporary Competition. After this feat, he decided to take a break from photography and film and focus on painting. World Art Gallery, Cape Town, hosted his first solo exhibition of large-scale abstract paintings in 2011. He has since continued to explore the realm of abstraction.
Dave works by manipulating information and impulses - presented to him during the creative process - to create a visual narrative. Relying on his ability to react to whatever marks, gestures or brushstrokes appear on the canvas, he lets the evolution of the painting guide his hand. Often working on several pieces simultaneously, operating on various degrees of awareness and intuition, he attempts to uncover what the artwork is trying to tell him. Dave intends to produce works that influence the viewer the same way the creative process influenced him. In doing so, he hopes to allow the viewer to fully appreciate the autonomy and uniqueness of each of his works.
Exhibitions, Publications and Awards
Dave has exhibited prolifically in solo and group shows at galleries spanning Germany, the USA, the Netherlands and South Africa. The Red Cross Society commissioned Dave in 1996 to create a calendar depicting life in South Africa. Catalogues such as ARTCO (Germany) and Elle Decor Magazine have also featured his work. Dave released his photographic book, Plakkerskamp, Bonnievale South Africa 2003-2012, which documents a community living on a municipal refuse dump in the Western Cape. This same book won a prize at the Lëtzebuerger Buchpräis 2013, a national book award ceremony in Luxembourg.