André le Roux du Toit was born in 1954 in Devil’s Peak, Cape Town. He grew up in the idyllic town of Stellenbosch in the Western Cape. Du Toit is also known by his performance name of Koos Kombuis.
His expressive talents are seen in his music, writing and fine arts. His creativity played an impactful role in South Africa’s history, and he has become an iconic figure in the shared memory of all South Africans.
The visual arts have played an integral role in the artist’s life. As a schoolboy he drew cartoonish figures of his teachers (much to the delight of his classmates). This appreciation for his quirky style now reaches a larger audience, and the drawing that he creates allow the audience to find the humour in the sometimes stark reality it is that he creates in his works. His exploration of reality through his art is inspired by the world around him, and mundane objects become symbolic of that which lies beneath the surface of everyday existence. This echoes the poetic paradigm in which his expression exists, and the works become visual poetry to move the viewer. The simplicity of the works enthrals the viewer, and the linework and minimalist use of colour ensure an emotive response to the aesthetic. The viewer is invited to explore the work itself in its entirety, and the understanding thereof becomes awakened. The pieces, as objectively presented by du Toit, become subjective interpretations that create personal meaning for the viewer in relation to their reality.
He is known for his part played in cultural and artistic movements in South Africa (that have, indeed, had a far-reaching effect) and he continues to do so. His work forms part of a new movement simply called Zef Modernisme (Zef Modernism). This style embodies a truly South African development from Postmodernism. Just as Postmodernism challenges the idea that there are universal certainties or truths and rely on the subjective interpretation that is founded on each individual’s experience of any given moment, Zef Modernisme challenges the reliability of media-saturated and socially perceived norms. Zef is a South African counter-culture movement, a means of highlighting the value of perceived rules of living. As within any ideology, the set of rules that govern our being (as individuals) is set. But this is not fixed, and (as prescribed by Postmodernism) experience becomes a more concrete means of defining reality that the set truths that are defined by those who hold power. Zef Modernisme therefore challenges these given norms, and asks the viewer to define their own sense of right and wrong within an ideological framework. Because of the nature of this movement, it is impossible to not have an emotive response to this body of work. The viewer is forced to face their own truths, and to question the validity thereof. Zef Modernisme creates a voice for a counter-culture movement that is in the throes of change, of redefining what it is to be South African.
Du Toit currently works and resides in Somerset West, South Africa.
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