Isaac Zavale Mozambique, b. 1987

Isaac Zavale is an interdisciplinary artist, working in painting, printing, drawing and urban arts. His work addresses social and political issues in South Africa and globally. With a distinct critique of Western legacy on the African continent, the artist sees these conflicts as ongoing stories in need to be told and examined. The artists’ community-related projects offer both a statement and call for action. 


Isaac Zavale’s paintings deal with the clashes of Western and African culture in contemporary South African society. The works show urban scenes between Zulu and Lamborghini, conflict and boredom, bustle and dirt. Bright, strong colours are confronted with large areas of black and grey, transmitting both positivity and desperation. Having experienced civil war and social unrest in both South Africa and his native Mozambique, the works are fused by elements of terror and revolt. Guns meet clenched fists as symbols of national and international struggle, fight and liberation. The ambivalence carried within these references and Zavale’s work as such testifies to the complexity of the issues addressed. 


"My work is about the lost identity of Africans since the continent has been, and continues to be, colonized by the Europeans and North American culture. In my view the problem is that the newer generations won’t really know where they come from and who they are, since there is a lot of transformation in African cultures with Africans trying to catch up with the Western way of living or thinking it’s the better way to be someone in the universe."

– Isaac Zavale


Isaac Zavale was born in Maputo, Mozambique, in 1987. The artist trained at the Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg and graduated in 2012. Isaac Zavale completed the artist residency GRFIKAMA in Nantes, FR. Zavale is the co-founder of Alphabet Zoo Collective and Prints on paper, two initiatives dedicated to hosting zine and printmaking workshopsIsaac Zavale lives and works in Johannesburg, ZA.