The Portfolio: Levy Pooe

I was  born during the country’s transition to democracy and began my  artistic career at a very young age, struck by how things looked and how reality could be represented and altered. I work from a  home studio and sometimes do murals and live documentation, especially interpretations of musical performances.

I create work that explores the urban experiences of ordinary people. My acrylic paintings of the quotidian are aimed at getting the audience to engage honestly with my works and to make up their own understanding of meaning.

In my work, nonperformative accounts of ourselves do not have to be found only in the spectacle, but through the mundane. I often depict black figures engaged in contemplative activities, daily rituals and routines, as well as explore the relationship between the urban space and migrants. 

In Month End, a group of men are depicted in the foreground, consisting of abo-grootman or, as we say in South Africa, moreki. I try to hint at this social class by depicting them with branded, expensive-looking clothes.

The aim is not to sweat.

The two figures wearing white jeans appear to have relaxed body movements compared to the other fellows in the group going down with amavosho or doing the pouncing cat.

There is a subtle balance between the pastel warm and cool tones, accompanied by the dramatic composition through body movement, highlighting the jubilant atmosphere.

Month End simply illustrates the beauty of groove with an undertone of bad financial decisions that usually accompany a night out.

The piece speaks to a time when I was reading urban black artists such as George Pemba and David Koloane  and thinking of ways in which to depict reality, most importantly my immediate reality.

Evident in the composition, I’d say, is a background of photography, because most of my work done after 2017 comes after having pursued photography.

My art, as with photography, is a social diary of  being black in the city. I am interested in creating narratives that speak to the black experience. I use a number of themes, ranging from labour, love and class to protest; issues that affect us on the daily, set against the backdrop of Johannesburg and rural Rustenburg. 

Levy Pooe is a Johannesburg-based artist. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Levy Pooe
Levy Pooe is a Johannesburg-based artist

Related stories


Subscribers only

Ithala fails to act against board chairperson over PPE scandal

Morar asked to settle with the state and pay back the profit he made on an irregular tender

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of iPhones

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

More top stories

What is EFF’s party funding quest?

Its court application to force disclosure of donations to Cyril Ramaphosa may mask a bid to portray him as a capitalist puppet

‘Extreme’ tactics and lockdown buy rhino more time

The Rockwood Conservation reserve boasts zero poaching incidents in six years and its breeding project is successful, but costly

North West premier in phone tapping claims

‘Agents’ working for Job Mokgoro allegedly tapped ANC and cabinet members’ phones

Judicial Conduct Committee orders Mogoeng to apologise for his remarks...

The JCC said that by the chief justice straying into politics, he breached the judicial conduct code and ordered him to issue an apology and retraction

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…