Blank is opening it’s new space with solo exhibitions by Turiya Magadlela, Bronwyn Katz and Herman Mbamba.
TURIYA MAGADLELA: Wabona lapho isifebe, wangena kuso
What’s my real name?
Who am I
Who are my daughters
I’m so tired
I really wonder if
I am the bitch
That I am constantly told I am
Is my name Thando
Or is my name
Is my name
Am I her or is she me
Is it us or are we all like that
Working primarily with common yet loaded fabrics, from pantyhose to correctional service uniforms, Turiya Magadlela (b.1978, Johannesburg, South Africa) creates abstract compositions by cutting, stitching, folding and stretching these materials across wooden frames. Her subject matter moves between articulations of personal experience of woman- and motherhood, and narratives from Black South African history. Magadlela studied at the Funda Community College (1998), the University of Johannesburg (1999 – 2001), and the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam (2003-2004). She has had six solo exhibitions to date, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Museum Africa and at blank projects. She has participated in several group exhibitions, both locally and internationally, including Blue Black, curated by Glenn Ligon (Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 2017), Simple Passion, Complex Vision: The Darryl Atwell Collection (Gantt Centre, 2017), The Past is Present (Jack Shainman Gallery, 2017), Les jour qui vient, curated by Marie-Ann Yemsi (Galerie des Galeries, 2017), Blackness in Abstraction (Pace Gallery, 2016) and The Quiet Violence of Dreams (Stevenson, 2016). In 2015, she was awarded the prestigious FNB Art Prize. Wabona lapho isifebe, wangena kuso is Magadlela’s third solo at blank projects.
Magadlela lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
BRONWYN KATZ: Grondskryf
Grondskryf is centred around Katz’s interests in human engagement with, and notions of, the earth. Dismantling the notion of people being the keepers of space/place, she instead posits space/place as the keeper of its occupants. A series of three dimensional drawings made from wire and other materials salvaged from used and discarded beds, the sculptures are a continuation of Katz’s exploration into the charting of existing places and memories as well as imagined spaces, or dreamscapes.
With this body of work, Katz investigates the potential of her chosen materials to serve as markers and representations of space and memory. Having sourced most of her materials from the various places where she has lived, she employs them as signifiers for these locations, informed by the readymade forms and structures of the salvaged bedsprings and mattresses.
Taking its title from the literal translation of the word geography, Grondskryf (’earth writing’) examines the constructed and subjective nature of map-making through sculptural depictions of these existing and imagined geographies. Katz seeks to bend the given language of cartography, and her ‘drawings’ mark out lines which re-image and re-think space and place.
Bronwyn Katz (b.1993, Kimberley, South Africa) graduated with a BFA from the Michaelis School of Art in 2015 and was awarded the Simon Gerson Prize. Katz’s oeuvre incorporates sculpture, installation, video and performance. Her first solo exhibition, Groenpunt was held at blank projects in 2016, and she has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Le jour qui vient (Galerie des Galeries, Paris, 2017), WE CALL IT “AFRICA” (Officine dell’Immagine Gallery, Milan, 2017), the 12th Dak’Art Biennale (Senegal, 2016) and The Quiet Violence of Dreams (Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, 2016). Katz is a founding member of iQhiya, an 11-women artist collective which has performed across various spaces, including Documenta (in Kassel and Athens), Greatmore Studios, and Iziko South African National Gallery. Later this year, she will present Deur die draad, a solo project at the FNB Joburg Art Fair. She is the 2018 recipient of the SAM Art Projects residency in Paris, which will culminate in a presentation of her work at the Palais de Tokyo. Katz lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
HERMAN MBAMBA: ╪Hâ╪Hâsa
╪Hâ╪Hâsa, Herman Mbamba’s first exhibition with the gallery, is comprised of a series of abstract paintings on pages torn from Norwegian fashion magazines. These paintings, while small in scale, are executed in Mbamba’s typical style with brightly coloured, amorphic shapes arranged in vivid compositions that both interact with and obliterate the imagery found on his chosen surface material. According to Mbamba, the found imagery he uses is not destroyed but rather “reorganised” through the act of appropriation. While the magazine pages in their original state are loaded with carefully contrived symbolism designed to provoke predetermined experiences in the viewer, Mbamba’s superimposed paintings shift and interrupt their meaning, creating opportunity for multiple readings and interpretations. By adding layers of paint to the glossy surface of fashion adverts in gestural brushstrokes, Mbamba enters into dialogue with the content of the advertisements, which are in his view reflective of Norway’s socio-political and cultural landscape.
The title, ╪Hâ╪Hâsa, translates from the artist’s mother tongue, Nama, to mean ‘essential’. In this body of work, Mbamba grapples with the notion of essentiality, and its relevance to him as both an artist and a diasporan. The paintings are executed in a primary visual language of colour and form, with particular shapes reoccurring like motifs throughout the series. Together with the gestural quality of Mbamba’s brush marks, the repetition of these organic forms is almost rhythmic, and they appear to be in a constant state of flux. Conceptually, the works offer a critique of the political and social spaces that construct and define identity. Specifically, Mbamba’s works are a commentary on his experience of living on the social periphery in Norway, a country considered to have one of the highest standards of living. This popular view conflicts with his own feelings of isolation and othering, and his paintings are a response to this contradiction; a mechanism with which to survive the political, social and cultural realities of Norway. For Mbamba, they are an essential means of communication in an alienating environment.
Contrasting dramatically in scale is a single, large-scale painting completed by Mbamba while on residency in Namibia. Although employing a similar formal language, the abstract mural-like work depicts a crowded harmony of light and space, inspired by the artist’s outdoor studio.
Herman Mbamba (b.1980, Gibeon, Namibia) began his studies in 1999 at the John Muafangejo Center, in Windhoek, Namibia. In 2003 he moved to Norway and began studying at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, receiving his MFA degree in 2008. To date, Mbamba has had eight solo exhibitions in spaces across Namibia, South Africa, and Norway. His most recent solo show, Fragments and narratives: Stories in painting and drawings, was held at the Bærum Kulturhus in Sandvika, Norway in 2016. He has participated in several group exhibitions, including the worldwide traveling exhibition Lumières d’Afriques (2016) where he represented Namibia, Chanting all glamouring, chirping (Munch Museet, Oslo, 2016) and Africa? Una Nuova Storia (Complesso Del Vittoriano, Rome, 2009). He is a founding member of the artist collective El Parche, who have exhibited work on La Otra Biennale in Bogotá, Columbia (2013), Hypocrisy: The Site Specificity of Morality (Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, 2009) and the Norwegian Sculpture Bienale (2008). Mbamba has taken part in several residency and workshop programmes, including the BAT Centre residency in Durban, Caversham International Artists and Writers Centre in Kwazulu Natal (2002), Tulipamwe International Art Workshop(2002 – 2003) and the Thapong International Art Workshop (2002). His work is represented in several notable institutional and private collections, including the National Art Gallery of Namibia, the National Museum of Botswana, the Arts Association Heritage Trust of Namibia, the Tulipamwe International Artists Collection, the Statoil Hydro Art Collection and the Du Pisani Art Collection. Currently on residency in Namibia, Mbamba lives and works in Haugesund, Norway.