State of blackness
07 August - 10 September 2014
Commune.1 is proud to announce the upcoming open studio of poet and artist Ayanda Mabulu. Following a two month in-gallery residency at Commune.1, Mabulu’s large-scale paintings and paper works are presented in progress along with materials, visual references, writings on the wall and other outcomes of his creative process. For the duration of the exhibition, Gallery I will function as a living artist’s studio. According to the artist, working in this way in the gallery space is like a mirror of the unfinished business of racial redress and thus assumes a performative function.
In this new body of work the artist’s message is once again a highly politicized one. The contradictions of our current politics – evinced by Marikana – are conflated with the psychological and physical harm inflicted on the black body during colonialism. Mabulu employs visual placeholders for these systems of repression in addition to both recognizable and anonymous politicians and colonial figures.
Like his previous solo exhibitions Mabulu demonstrates the political reach of the artists’ provocation. Under the license of free expression, the artist reimagines new relationships between living and past figures of power implicating them in various acts of violence or sexually compromised behavior. Thus, by evoking scenarios that are not easily conjured up with other mediums, Mabulu’s work represents a contribution to the advancement of politicized painting and to the role of the artist as activist. According to Mabulu, “we need an evolution through art because we are not achieving our freedom through politics”.
The exhibition title, ‘State of blackness’, further suggests an assessment of current identity politics and the indicators of racism in South Africa. This work intends to sensitize the public to the ways that corrupt politicians complicate the image of black men and how white racism continues to stereotype and exclude. As with previous works there is a reference to documentary photography and the conflicted role of the photographer as a neutral observer.
Ayanda Mabulu was born in King William’s Town in 1981. He is a self-taught artist and started drawing and painting at a young age. Solo exhibitions have taken place in China at the Chenshia Museum (2011) and 'Un-mute my tongue' at World Art in Cape Town. Recent group exhibitions include 'Our Fathers' at The AVA Gallery (2012), Greatmore Studio Showcase (2012) and the Bag Factory in Johannesburg (2012). Mabulu has taken part in numerous residencies: Greatmore Art Studios (2011-2013), Chenshia Museum in China (2011), Bag Factory Thupelo workshop in Johannesburg.