Senzo Shabangu's third solo show, Obsession, reflects a turning point in his career as an artist through his appreciation of the response of his audience to his work, the inner power which drives him to create and the power above that has seen him through his success. Shabangu’s three exhibitions with David Krut Projects are part of an on‐going exploration of the personal trials of being an artist in South Africa. Shabangu has said that he considers Obsession a breakthrough in his artistic practice.
This body of work is also inspired by the social issues that influence everyday life of citizens of South Africa. The media, protest actions, men in robes and judges are the underlying source of imagery for this latest body of work. The powerful role that the media plays in everyday life, with particular reference to protests taking place around the country is also a particular point of reference. He also explores the inequalities that he has witnessed wherein poor people work hard for the benefit of rich people. He uses naked figures to symbolise the poor’s struggle, holding up and supporting the dish, which is itself a symbol of the material wealth and selfishness of the rich.
He also talks about appreciation and gratitude for what we are given and what we already hold, specifically in the context of South African cities. Here Shabangu responds to the incident of Cape Town citizens throwing waste at the parliamentary buildings in protest for permanent toilet facilities. He believes that these people already have governmental provisions for which to be grateful, especially if one compares their situation to that of people in other places who have far less, and whose living conditions are much worse.
At this turning point in his career, Shabangu believes that he is now a graduate of real life. He portrays this in his work Well Done. While speaking of this work Shabangu uses the Zulu word “uvuthiwe” which means ‘well done’ in the culinary sense, while also the term for maturity, for someone having “come of age”. The combination of figures of power (such as judges, graduates, politicians and religious leaders) and the pots and bowls which they emerge from appears in linocuts and sculptures created while Shabangu was in residence in Lesotho Shabangu considers the audience of his work to be its judges, yet he still maintains that beyond the audience, God is the judge of his success as an artist. He feels that these works have emerged from a place beyond his own imagination.