Byron Fredericks is an artist who uses color and language to navigate the complexity of cultural identities, and his own positioning with his identity in the Cape region of South Africa. 

His work is both metamorphic and visually charged with symbols of the Afrikaans language and local gangs symbols known as “Chappies.” Afrikaans is a creole language that was adopted in the Cape upon the arrival of the Dutch colonizers. Afrikaans was used by the Dutch colonists, Malay and South East Asian slaves that were brought to the Cape.

This dialect segued into a more digressive language known as a Cape Colored dialect. This was exclusively used only by the people of color and still is. Fredericks uses this language in broad brush strokes in words and phrases that covers the surface with metaphorical meaning. His rough and gestural use of playful color and mark casts a poignant and suggestive backdrop. He articulates ideas of ownership, identity crisis and pride. He is deliberate in skewing and distorting the letters in contrast to how the mother tongue language had been distorted and repossessed. This is illustrated in looselines that run across the pictorial composition. The colors are as equally as vibrant as the ambiguity of the Afrikaans phrases.

He aggressively colonises a page filled with bold symbols and imagery of gang related chappies. He focuses on how gang signs and chappies are used in prisons throughout the Cape. A secret language only used by members of the Numbers gangs called: The Sabela. A language that is visually charged with black ink poked and sticked into skin of color. He adopts this imagery and transforms the symbolism to form a new visual language of expression. His references the actions of being stuck and poked in the use of gauging mark into wet paint.

This creates a permanent indentation of disposition within the context of owning a language or symbol. Fredericks creates an ideology on how a creole language can change the perception of a particular group. He creates a metaphoric pictorial space in which he is in control of his own language. One that he holds all the secrets too. Imagery of faces, phrases, numbers and primal drawings are all representative of the complexities of the racialized realities we live in. The work encompasses satirical remarks and loose expressions of color that are representative to racial complexities within in his local of South Africa.

Artist Statement

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



Selected Exhibitions and Press:

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
“Examining Byron Fredericks’ dynamic and relevant paintings”, Nkgopoleng Moloi, Bubblegumclub, https:// fredericks-dynamic-and-relevant-paintings/, August 2018
“Artist Feature - Byron Fredericks”, SeeMe - Creators, www., November 2016

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

Solo Exhibition, Lekker Lekker, Beijing Opera, September 2016, Cape Town, RSA
Group Exhibition, A New Wave, Southern Guild, August 2016, Cape Town, RSA Group Exhibition, Aaron Bondaroff curated show, East Hall Gallery, Pratt Institute, May - June 2016, Brooklyn, NY
Solo Exhibition, Don’t Be ‘n Bietjie Duh, East Hall Gallery, Pratt Institute, May 2016, Brooklyn, NY,
Group Exhibition, It Is What It Is, No End Contemporary, March 2016, Johannesburg, RSA
Group Exhibition, That Art Fair, March 2016, Cape Town, RSA
Group Exhibition, Between10and5, Travel Exhibition, March 2016 Cape Town, RSA
Group Exhibition, Between10and5, Travel Exhibition, First Thursdays, Fourthwall Books, February 2016, Johannesburg, RSA
Group Exhibition, Cape Town Art Fair, February 2016, Cape Town, RSA
“That Art Fair Expo in Cape Town”, Cape Town Magazine, February 2016
Artthrob. “Travel - A Group Exhibition curated by Between 10and5,, February 2016
Leiman, Layla. “See This Do That - It Is What It Is Show Feature”,, March 2016
Leiman, Layla. ” Meet The Artists on the Travel Exhibition”,, March 2016

Hunkin, Jessica. “Oh Wow! - Spontaneous Drawings”,, April 2015
Group Exhibition, CNY Video, New Media & Light Festival, April 2013, Utica, NY