Nandipha Mntambo : Metamorphoses

Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa
03 Sep 2015 - 03 Oct 2015

Nandipha Mntambo : Metamorphoses

Nandipha Mntambo Works in progress at Workhorse Bronze Foundry, Johannesburg 2015 © Nandipha Mntambo Courtesy STEVENSON, Cape Town/Johannesburg

STEVENSON present Nandipha Mntambo’s Metamorphoses, her sixth solo exhibition with the gallery.

Metamorphoses comprises several new sculptural works as well as video, painting and drawing, and takes its title from the epic book by the Roman poet Ovid (43BC – 17AD). Ovid narrates mythical tales of the universe, history, love and art, each of which represent transformation – whether it’s the protagonists mutating from human to animal form when punished by the gods, changing gender when in contact with magical creatures, or when gods morph into animals to mate with their lovers.

Through her new bronze sculptures Mntambo reflects on the self and its endless incarnations by inserting her features into two figures from mythology and literature – the Minotaur and Ophelia – enabling her to see herself from their aspect. As the artist says:

I take on another identity, I get in and out of my skin combining my traits with the ones of the character I am impersonating. It is an open-ended process, and a third figure emerges that is not me nor the original character, but rather an entity that borrows elements from both, and in doing so acquires its own profile.

The Minotaur is a recurring mythological character in her work; however in this exhibition the bronze figure is a woman, whose imposing warrior-like stance is contradicted by voluptuous forms and the soft gaze of the eyes, semi-closed and lost in a long-distance view. This ambiguous figure expresses a femininity that is fighting to emerge, or symbolizes the last moments of the life of the Minotaur, relieved to be delivered from a surreal and lonely existence.

The second bronze figure, based on Shakespeare’s Ophelia – like all his female characters, written for a man – continues the narrative of self-transformation, melancholy and embodiment. Stepping into the form of another, this bronze, submerged in a pool of water, speaks of the role of duality in providing agency for the transformation of events, not only historical significant ones, but also those related to the concept of love.

Mntambo is currently included in What remains is tomorrow, the South African Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale;Disguise: Masks and Global African Art at Seattle Art Museum and Barriers at Wanås Konst, Sweden. Other recent group shows included the travelling exhibition The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists, at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC, and other venues; and The Film Will Always Be With You: South African Artists On Screen at Tate Modern, London (both 2015).

She won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art in 2011, for which she produced the national travelling exhibition Faena. She has had five solo shows at Stevenson in Cape Town (2007, 2009, 2012) and Johannesburg (2009 and 2014); and two at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm (2013 and 2015). Notable group exhibitions include My Joburg at La Maison Rouge, Paris, and then at Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (2013); the 3rd Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, Moscow (2012); ARS 11, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2011); the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010); the 9th Dakar Biennale (2010); Peekaboo: Current South Africa, Tennis Palace Art Museum, Helsinki (2010); Les Rencontres de Bamako biennial of African photography, Bamako, Mali (2009); Beauty and Pleasure in South African Contemporary Art, Stenersen Museum, Oslo (2009); and Apartheid: The South African Mirror, Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (2008). Mntambo was a Civitella Ranieri Fellow for 2013.

The exhibition opens on Thursday 3 September, from 6 to 8pm.





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