BRUNDYN+ present, Ditaola, Mohau Modisakeng’s debut solo exhibition at the gallery, a new body of work including of sculpture, video and photography.
A central tenet and foundational question that Modisakeng’s work responds to is the issue of violence and concerns around the role it plays and continues to play in colonial, as well as post-colonial African societies. His current body of work engages several discourses related to the political economy of the racial segregation, institutionalised/systemic racism, militarisation, and civil unrest of apartheid South Africa and the African continent at large. The work engages both individual and collective narratives informed by the realities of living in South Africa. The constructed narratives engage the black body as a site of fragmentation, distortion, and degradation.
Modisakeng’s previous sculptural work grappled with notions of conflict, aggression and the threat ofphysical violence. The work often directly references instruments, tools and symbols of violence that are significant to the South African political and historical context. The objects are taken out of their original frame of reference as mere functional objects and repositioned in the hyper-conscious exhibition space, thus revealing a multiplicity of subtexts. His work reaches in and exhumes the complexity that percolates at the surface.
The exhibition highlights the relationship between narrative, form, nuance and what lies beneath. The results are a multidimensional creative process wherein a constellation of imagined places, stories and mythologies combine and assume physical and primarily sculptural form. The artist posits: “My current work exits as several physical ‘bodies’ in the form of autonomous sculptures, each assuming an individual role within an allegorical network of signs and symbols comprising the larger constellation. The characters, moments (performative, live elements), and setting on a visual level correspond to the very ideas and concepts – political, philosophical, theological and historical – that are at the root of my practice on both a symbolic and material level.”
Each object functions as a metalanguage. Through description and analysing visual codes, conventions and structures Modisakeng works towards revealing a metonymic sculptural environment. The material representation within the framework of this body of work reconstitutes a concrete ‘text’ into various abstract subtexts. The underlying connotations of his work are directly informed by the artist’s personal biography and is infused into the collective narrative of black African subjects within the framework of (South) African social, political, and cultural politics.
A catalogue with texts by Prof. Ruth Simbao and Adrienne Edwards will accompany the exhibition.
Mohau will give a walkabout of his exhibition on Thursday 5 June at 11am in support of Friends of the South African National Gallery. Cost for members and non-members is R 20. All are welcome.
ORO AFRICA Building (First Floor)
170 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town