In his third solo show in Cape Town, Sujay presents a visual interpretation of some of the more enigmatic inhabitants of our African marine ecosystems. The graphite drawings on display are an ode to the cetaceans and large sharks that roam the oceans around the Cape coastline.

This body of work was created through the course of the 2020 pandemic. As our social lives drew inwards and the buzz of humanity experienced an unprecedented pause, drawing cetaceans and sharks became a way for Sujay to reach outwards. The complex social structures formed by these animals gave pause to reflect on our collective human responses to fear and danger. Their freedom of movement was starkly juxtaposed against the sudden constraints on our own movement presented by lockdowns. And yet, the true freedom of these animals is at stake like never before, as a direct consequence of our own human behaviour.

The works do not draw from one photographic reference. Instead they are composed in the artists’ mind, based on the intake of hours of footage, writing, research and documentation of these elusive creatures. They are portraits of secretive animals, almost too large for us to fathom. Hopefully we have the sense and empathy to protect them.


Exhibiting 31 Oct – 20 Nov 2020
11h00 – 16h00 | 6 Spin Street, Cape Town

Whales of the Cape

This work illuminates the scale of the large cetaceans that inhabit the temperate waters in the southern hemisphere. I choose to draw whales 6m and above in length up to a 28 meter Blue whale, so that one can contemplate the proportions and size of these ancient beings.

Whales of the Cape Poster


Ultramarine – Graphite Drawings (2020) by Sujay Sanan

The fate of humankind has never been more intertwined with other living species on earth. Due to human induced climate change we can witness, within one human lifetime, healthy populations of species collapse. The inhospitable conditions on the planet signal that we will eventually pave the way for an uninhabitable earth. We coined a term, keystone species, to define the plants and animals on whom the survival of many in their ecosystem depend. Populations of cetaceans are indicators of our entire planets’ health. Whales are an integral part of how nutrients circulate in our oceans. When we can no longer make space for the whales it is a sign that our own place on this earth is in peril.

I try to impart an iconic quality to the life-forms that I represent in my works. My intention is that the works may dissolve into the public imagination, creating opportunities for people to see the world as a place for life other than our own. This way I hope the message has an influence on humanity’s larger choices while we still have a choice in deciding the fate of our life on earth.

Proudly supported by
Quick Brown Fox

Images © Sujay Sanan 2020
Cape Town, South Africa

Website & shipping by
Artist Admin