Byron Fredericks is an Artist, Creative Director and Designer based in New York. His work revolves around capturing moments of beauty in ordinary life, a process that grounds everything in real human emotion. His array of media includes photography, ceramics, paintings, drawings and functional designed objects.

Byron Mark Fredericks’ (b.1992) latest body of work, Van Die Kaap Af, Jy. Fredericks presents a body of work that consists of ceramic objects and paintings. The series of artworks aims to connect the dots between the meaning and the power behind the language. The phrases don’t directly translate to English; when you do, the intrinsic value is lost. This is the area that Fredericks explores and draws his attention to. Fredericks explores the ambiguity behind cape-colored phrases such as, “Tjommie”, “Dikbek” and “Toppie”. Fredericks is intrigued by the improvisation and creation of these phrases and their existence. This is where he centralizes his focus around the celebration of why cape-colored culture is unique to the visual landscape of South Africa.

Fredericks uses the power of language to depict how emblematic cape-colored culture is amongst the other vast cultures in South Africa. He recalls hearing these phrases from a distance, used by friends and family where one can immediately identify with that person or feel a sense of cultural resemblance. The words themself are gibberish and partly made up, but they have intrinsic meaning. This is where Fredericks finds himself deshelling the inherent meaning of the phrase, surveying the ambivalence behind the colloquial slang. He cites phrases like, “Jou Ma Se, and Awe My Brul” that you will hear on the streets of Cape Town. The majority of these cape-colored slang terms are seen as vulgar and derogatory. Fredericks uses links of race, language, and class to decipher complex history. As a colored person in South Africa, you are neither black nor white. A starting point begins with dissecting these colloquial words such as “Jassis’’ or “Awe My Bru”. Both of these phrases are context-dependent, housing various definitions. Fredericks breaks apart these phrases by educating the viewers by outlining each term’s English translation. Due to the specific, colloquial nature of the language, direct translations are predominately unavailable. His adaptation of the colloquial language and nuanced phrases provide the tooling to interpret new meanings of his background and personal identity. These words aren’t meant to be celebrated as they are frowned upon. Instead, Fredericks views this process as a token of cultural appreciation. The ceramic objects open up a dialogue about the potential to re-imbue words already defined by a place’s history. The objects declare an agency to blur harsh boundaries, flipping derogatory terms on their head to make space for an identity that confounds racist structures.

Now Fredericks celebrates (his)story as a colored person, but it wasn’t always that way. Fredericks recalls when he grew up, he was confused about where he fell within the racial spectrum. “I wasn’t black enough to think of myself as African nor white enough to be European. I can resonate with the black people as much as I can with the white people.” For the first time, Fredericks sees this as an opportunity to rewrite how colored cultures are shaped and narrated. It isn’t depicted via being not black or not white or by color. He focuses the attention on the ambition of coming together and providing an outlet to memorialize what is unique to the cape-colored culture. Simply put, the celebration of a culture that deserves its platform. Something to be proud of, instead of something that is frowned upon.

Fredericks’s paintings are tongue and cheek, such as the phrases. It is meant to be evocative and inviting with chaotic energy. The works cited raw automatic unconscious markings and graffiti notes on street walls around colored areas in Cape Town. He takes this energy and applies this to the canvas in his work “Mitchells Plain” and “Moer”. Fredericks uses these marks and cut-out phrases in the same manner that graffiti places ownership of a wall. He does this in a very juxtaposed and refined way via language and uses a phrase, “Moer” cut out of the painted canvas. “Moer” is seen as a curse word in South Africa. However, it has no value to someone who has no context with it. Fredericks sees this as the sweet spot. In his paintings, he uses reference points of language, graphic design, clothing, and specific geo-locations within Cape Town to highlight the aesthetic of the cape-colored culture. Fredericks is interested in the rawness and underlining the beauty of how markings and colors that don’t make sense at all can interact with each other and fit together seamlessly. A romantic metaphor for how culture can be created and work harmoniously together.

With this series of works, Fredericks aims to provide a new way to see things by giving them a new context. An attempt to open up a holistic conversation that keeps cultural moments moving forward regardless of historical backgrounds. To mark this cultural sphere is why these objects and works exist. The ceramic objects are heirloom tokens of culture. A cemented archeological souvenir of cape-colored culture with newly added context. He celebrates his culture as it is a part of his identity and opens a dialogue for future generations.


Solo Exhibition, Van Die Kaap Af, Jy. Homme Gallery, September 2022, Washington D.C, USA

Group Exhibition, Joy Ride, Paradise Palace,
January 2020, New York, USA
Solo Exhibition, Chappies Laapies, Plankroad Gallery, October 2021, New York, USA

Group Exhibition, Group Show 2, Serving The People, January 2020, New York, USA

Group Exhibition, Unresolved Category, Gallery MOMO, July 2019, Cape Town, RSA

Solo Exhibition, Dala What You Must!, 666 Broadway, May 2018, New York, USA

Group Exhibition, Out of Nowhere, Smith Gallery, May 2017, Cape Town, RSA

Solo Exhibition, Lekker Lekker, Beijing Opera,
September 2016, Cape Town, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, A New Wave, Southern Guild,
August 2016, Cape Town, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, Aaron Bondaroff curated show, East Hall Gallery, Pratt Institute,
May - June 2016, Brooklyn, USA.
Solo Exhibition, Don’t Be ‘n Bietjie Duh, East Hall Gallery, Pratt Institute,
May 2016, Brooklyn, USA.
Group Exhibition, It Is What It Is, No End Contemporary,
March 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, That Art Fair,
March 2016, Cape Town, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, Between10and5, Travel Exhibition,
March 2016 Cape Town, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, Between10and5, Travel Exhibition, First Thursdays, Fourthwall Books,
February 2016, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Group Exhibition, Cape Town Art Fair,
February 2016, Cape Town, South Africa.


“From routine to rituals // five creative practitioners reflect on the New Year” rituals-five-creative-practitioners-reflect-on-the- new-year
Nkgopoleng Moloi, Bubblegumclub
March 2020

“Examining Byron Fredericks’ dynamic and relevant paintings”,
Nkgopoleng Moloi, Bubblegumclub,
https:// examining-byron- fredericks- dynamic-and- relevant-paintings
August 2018

“Artist Feature - Byron Fredericks”, SeeMe - Creators, www. fredericks
November 2016

“That Art Fair Expo in Cape Town”, Cape Town Magazine
February 2016


b.1992 Cape Town, South Africa. Lives and works in New York. Graduated from Pratt Institute in 2016.


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