The focus of my curatorial concept is the idea of art in the post-truth era. In this context, we understand post-truth as a rejection of any single narrative that must necessarily be adapted by those whom the narrative is written about. This not post-truth as political deception, as the term came to be known for meaning. For so long, it was said that history is written by the victor. But in light of what post-truth could mean, with a foregrounding of the subjective experience, we can place emphasis on the individual’s experience of said history. The object in the story finds power in becoming the subject of their own story. In breaking away from “objective” narratives of history, biology, politics and our environment, a new truth is found. A truth validated by other people, bound together by similar experience. This exhibition is thus a celebration of our various niches, and communities found online and around us, who validate and understand our experiences of history, biology, politics and our environment.
Through introspective and daring, brush strokes, the painting-centric exhibition relies on a traditional medium to tell untraditional stories. These are stories that draw from the lived experiences of each artist. Nobakada is concerned with painting into art history the lived experience of black women who are so often deprived of seeing themselves represented in spaces of leisure and joy. Playing on the same note of joy, Jessicah filters through the noise of life around her and triangulates her work on the joys experienced in sisterhood in her playful abstract realism style. Abstracting even further, Axon and Seoketsa journey the same road of expressing the complexities of the body, respectively exploring its absences (of gender) and presences (of life carried in pregnancy). Their ways of seeing and feeling the world are thus materialised, to exist as truth beyond them.
Shared understanding has long been understood as culture. I propose that shared understanding, culture, is a valuable truth of its own. History written by the victor is the history of the victor alone. This exhibition poses questions around portrayals of communities once positioned as the truth. This is a celebration of both the fragmentation of understanding and the resulting communities that form from it.
Artwork above: Buqaqawuli Nobakada, 11:38 am on a Wednesday, 2023, Acrylic paint on hand-prepared lace paper, 109 cm x 126 cm, R 38,000.00 ex. VAT
Artwork above: Ene Yakno-Abasi Jessicah, We are freedom, 2023, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 120.7 x 120.7 cm, R 75,000.00 ex. VAT
Denzel ‘Denzo’ Nyathi is a passionate designer, writer, curator and creative. He obtained his Honours equivalent Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design from the Rhodes University School of Journalism. Having had his educational start in design in a journalism space, the need to combine effective communication with artistic expression has never been lost on him. Keeping that in mind, his philosophy of art – and life in general – is one which constantly comes back to the fact that we are a social people. Our lives and our work exists in a society, and should speak to and with that society, for the benefit of many. He approaches curation with the same design sensibilities that he approaches designing a magazine with. This relationship between multiple elements, such as image, text and space. Within that space, how are we made to feel? What is the golden thread with which all these possibly unrelated works are bound? Those are the questions which move the work.
Before curating, Denzo worked for years in the field of art journalism and criticism. Bylines include major local publications such as Bubblegum Club Magazine and Mail&Gaurdian. He has also written for the National Arts Festival (2020, 2022) and for the journal Something We Africans Got, run from France. Having studied and practiced Visual Arts, Contemporary Dance, Creative Writing, Drama and Design, the throughline in Denzo’s professional and personal work is an admiration for the ways all the disciplines of art shine a light on the kaleidoscope of our soul.
Buqaqawuli Nobakada, The face of productivity on a busy day, 2022, Acrylic paint on hand prepared lace paper, 100 cm x 130 cm, R 36,000.00 ex. VAT
Riley Axon, Who do you call first?, 2023, Acrylic on stretched canvas, 59,4 x 89,1 cm, R 22,000 ex. VAT
Further Reading In Articles
African Artist Directory