Joburg feels endless. There is a lot of noise, a lot of things to do and we are so young and relaxed. Its energy is easy to feed. From the spread of graffiti we witness when we are in a car driving under a bridge, which fascinates us with the raw talent it displays, to the street vendors selling either tomorrow On a cold winter morning or We have been searched clothes to weddings to long weekends back home, to the office spaces where we make our mark, whose corners have seen the brightest street lights and the fiercest street fights.
After: Exploring Unseen Narratives It is a group exhibition that invites us to think deeply about the journeys we take in the hustle and bustle of everyday life against the backdrop of the magnificent city. As one walks from room to room inside the Houghton Estate office where the exhibition is taking place, the artists graduate Artist Proof Studio Offers fragments of the character and neighborhood that have been shaped by life in this city. Alumni of this well-known inner-city printmaking studio providing an art education in this medium and whose work is on display include Ben Mbande, Betinho Mokwane, Hlafutlu Ngobeni, Samukilo Gokola, Thabo Skhosana, Chuguvatsu Nkhomeling, Siza Zeta and Bikizila Mabina.
Ngobeni reminds us that we carry our original homes with us in the many buildings we enter, and that we should be proud of our heritage as we honor those who care for us. Sometimes we fish out of the water, forever find our own places, reshape ourselves within the dynamics of the city, and hope for a better tomorrow in the dystopian Mphande style of the current social and physical environment. Other times we come here chasing underground gold and stayed for the character that towers over our heads. The layers of Mokwani’s printing process draw attention to the depths of our dreams and encounters.
Working from a rooftop studio in August House, a building filled with artists’ studios in Dornfontein, Mabina emphasizes our special relationship with the city through the prism and practice of excursions.
“My whole life has been based around travel and there are traces of that in my work. There are images of movement, elements that look like water flowing from one point to another. Think of crossing [a] A river, being a border crossing and then a foreigner. Think about water and how it interacts with identity in this sense. Water is in the paint I apply in my paintings and in the ground. We are divided by water, but water is also used to build communities. “People can also have a spiritual connection with this natural element,” says Mabina.
With reference to a work contained in Aftermathtitled Call home when you are lostHe says that being in this city is too far from my home and sometimes [I am] I remembered that I don’t have full access to a place called home. Home is always on my mind. Each artist in this show has visualized their own journey. Stories rarely considered, obstacles encountered or mastered, and the repercussions of life events.”
This panel was created to be a two-part story; Call home when I’m lost And secondly (2023). They take on an abstract form, containing shades of blue that run the length of the canvas like bodies of water. There are scraps across the green parts emphasizing the character of the town, making one think of how long Jozi has been around, and how many times parts of it have been built up and rebuilt, destroyed and renovated. Small black doors and windows are scattered around the picture, which “depict [enclosure factor] It comes with entering and being in space, and it’s meant to give you the feeling that there’s a whole world underneath the things available for you to see,” he explains.
In one of the rooms in the exhibition space, the two paintings are joined by a third drawing, called in foreign lands (2023). It’s an interesting piece that draws attention to the many changes that have taken place in the city and makes one feel nostalgic for a time when things were simpler. “I wanted the viewer to think deeply [the concept of] right and wrong. There is a lot going on in the city: there is corruption, dirt, and crime. I want you to ask why things are the way they are. Why is there pink? [vertical] line on the canvas? Questions like this are supposed to be translated into, why is there so much crime all around us? Mabina asks.
Being a South African and Zimbabwean artist, who has a South African mother and a Zimbabwean father, Mabina faced many difficulties such as reconciling his identity as he was always moving from one place to another while growing up. However, at the heart of his artistic practice is connectedness and a strong sense of belonging. “My job is mainly for the people and for the people. Having good relationships with people, where they understand who you are and where you come from [is what makes someone belong to a certain space and culture]Mabina concludes. He firmly believes that “Love is the basis of everything” and that it is the love of what he does that overcomes the obstacles in his artistic path.
“One of the elements that I appreciate about the works in this gallery is how well the artists are able to express emotions,” says Tshepang Skhosana, fashion designer and art enthusiast.
“The fact that these artists were inspired by where they came from and how they grew up, and what it all means to them, is beautiful,” says Lesego Tapane, an economics student from Soweto. This exhibition makes an impression and also gives the viewer a (metaphorical) monogram from which to get a better look and feel of the city. DM
After: Exploring Unseen Narratives Work continues until 31st July at Harrow Court 1 in the Isle of Houghton Estate Office Park. Visit Artist Proof Studio website For more details, contact the gallery manager at [email protected] To view the publications of Mabina and his contemporaries.