Mixed media (gouache, water colour and ink) on Felix Schoeller True Rag Etching
427 X 630 mm (original artwork is framed in one-off arched frame with bronze plaque as per image)

Prints are on Felix Schoeller True Rag Etching 310 gsm
437 x 655mm (with added white border for square format)
Edition of 15
Hand-signed, dated and numbered

Born in 1942 as Eugene Fritz, Kewpie was born six years before the formal establishment of South African apartheid and came of age under the regime’s most brutal chapter. At the age of fourteen she started taking ballet lessons at the University of Cape Town, and her talent led to an offer to dance overseas. Her father refused the offer, which allegedly caused a rift in their relationship. However, he encouraged her to pursue hairdressing, and even bought Kewpie her own salon in District Six. Kewpie was proudly genderfluid – although she identified by female pronouns – in a time when homosexual sex was criminalized and considered an abberation within the Calvinist belief system that underscored Afrikaner nationalism. This was especially controversial among people of colour who already faced great oppression under the reign of Apartheid.

Kewpie’s salon became ground zero for the queer community of District Six to safely meet and perform drag shows (“Moffie concerts”). Her cultural hub became so popular in the community that they attracted the attention of the media who wrote about the drag stars who performed there. Kewpie, who performed under the stage name Capucine, referenced the vintage glamour of movie stars, and became one of the most influential queens in South African drag culture. She was embraced as an icon in the community, despite challenging nearly all societal conventions of the time.

In 1966 District Six was declared a “whites only” area, and the 60 000 residents of the area were forcefully evicted, their homes demolished, and were relocated to racially segregated residential areas across the Cape Flats. Kewpie refused to leave and moved in with friends in Kensington. She continued fostering and serving her community even after the eventual fall of aparteid. She passed away in 2012, at the age of 71. Post-humously, Kewpie’s documentation of the queer scene in District Six was integral to its historic preservation – collected in the exhibition “Kewpie: daughter of District Six”, 700 of her photos were exhibited to the public, immortalizing her as a South African queer icon.