(b. 1994 Cape Town, South Africa)
Githan Coopoo is a self-taught jewellery designer and sculptor from Cape Town who works exclusively with clay as a base medium. Originally focused on volume, opulence and fragility, Coopoo’s clay jewellery has shown at Fashion Weeks internationally, including New York, Paris, Nigeria and Russia.
“Clay is very human in its behaviour and I like to highlight that in my work, as well as my love for mythology, ancient civilisations and the gifts they have left us. There is something special about objects that are lost and then found again. They change in their absence. Mythology often allows for an easier transmission of queer ideas in this way. Although I have a kiln, I produce these vases out of air drying clay as I feel this again breaks away from the traditions of ceramic production while still engaging my sculptures in the ceramic canon of representation, an innately queer act. I actually find it far harder making large forms out of air drying clay, as it is not intended for these purposes – but again, this appropriation is a signalling of the agency I hope to bring about in my work.”
Expanding upon his practice, recent years have seen the production of larger-scale works, best described as false ceramics. These works have predominantly taken the form of tiles, vases and handbags which use text to communicate simple but pointed messages of a queer tonality that span from sarcastic to intimate in timbre. As part of the inaugural exhibition for the Norval Foundation x Boschendal Manor House in Franschhoek, Coopoo presented his first solo exhibition, Structural Integrity (2021).
Coopoo's presentation with Everard Read Cape Town, The Luxury of Wearing Fakes (2022), explored luxury consumption in both art and fashion, while again being bolstered by base and colourful remarks teetering between the existential and tongue-and-cheek.
Coopoo also presented work with the gallery at the FNB Art Joburg in 2022, and had a sell-out solo booth at the 2023 Investec Cape Town Art Fair.