STEVENSON is pleased to present Nqanda nanga'manzi engene'ndlini, a new solo exhibition by Mawande Ka Zenzile comprising new painting, sculpture and installation.
The artist writes:
This body of work journeys into the different aspects and facets of humanity, transcending the most limiting beliefs about art, philosophy and spirituality. I often travel between Cape Town and Lady Frere, Eastern Cape; driving down the vast landscape, looking at the horizons, exploring the vastness of the land, the open space ... this gives me a sense of freedom, a sensation of breaking away from the cluttered spaces of township, city or suburb and venturing out – escaping Plato's cave.
With hindsight, I have realised that the lines and contours of the landscape found their way symbolically into my canvases. In these canvases, the lines and contours are transmitted and transformed – the shapelessness of the clouds and the mountains turn into smeared cow dung, oil and gesso on a piece of fabric, inviting the attention of the viewer to experience the landscapes differently. The imperfect clouds reflect the imperfection of life, the imperfection in my painting. It's as if these lines and colours decide for themselves where they want to disappear and/or reappear, transforming the picture plane as they do. The works tell me to stop or to continue; they speak in a language, but it is a unilinear form of communication.
In this body of work, I explore a more holistic approach to thinking about my art practice. I am looking beyond geopolitics, affectation, identity politics and related theories, consciously and intentionally looking beyond the social happenings and their divisions – the dialectical hoax that man has created against the mind
Just like that, the mind is complete, the spirit is aware, and the mind and the spirit are whole. They open clarity, the clarity to look, to see; the clarity to experience the intuitive beyond the rational. J Krishnamurti has referred to this as looking and seeing without judgment or without interpreting. At these moments, I am driven purely by the desire to create art, not to react or respond.
Meanwhile, inside the studio; Wasulu music, the maskanda, Sufi music and the drums are beating, blocking all external noise from invading my mind. All the while the smoke of impepho when it escapes from the front door is like food from a burning stove bursting through barriers, desperate to free the soul from the entrappings of human behaviourism. I tranced, I danced and then journeyed back to the source, searching for the Sanusi, Itola and the prophet in me to guide the way. I journeyed deep into the practice, freeing the mind from self-delusion.
I am sifting through thoughts and blocking thoughts – external thoughts about painting and art history, society and politics. In turn, attempting to shift paradigms, move beyond form and content into a space of pure sensations, transcending popular visual representations. A culture of intellectualism is becoming dominant to the point that it denigrates creativity. My studio became my solace, where creativity is given a chance to strive.
This has allowed my work to get to a point where I felt no need to paint a figure to make a painting. I have found a desire inside myself to trust the sensuality and formlessness, the beauty and ugliness of dung.
This is not a conscious venture into abstraction nor a recitation of my educational background in art history. These works emerge from being in the moment, swimming in the moment, enjoying the moment and having a conversation with the stream of consciousness, and getting to the point where I silence it completely.
In that moment, it is me and the material, me and the colour, me and the form – from form to formless. It takes me down to the unknown, to the unfamiliar; removing all the expectations; focusing on the process, being hijacked by the process, being liberated by it and opening my eyes to see broader.
To me painting is a ritual I perform to help cope with reality, I am using my materials as a vessel to travel through and beyond limiting beliefs, whether these are psychological or other forms of dogma. This work is a move away from conventional beliefs about art or reality in general; I’m letting go of control over the process and allowing it to lead the way and try to break free from the burden of representation – the burden of collective consciousness or unconsciousness. In this exhibition, I quench my desire to talk about the political and economic state of the world, prevalent in my previous works.
Nqanda nanga'manzi engene'ndlini marks Ka Zenzile’s first exhibition in the city since 2018. The opening will be accompanied by a performance of umrhube by Larissa Andrea Johnson and a discussion between the artist and writer Themba Tsotsi.
The exhibition opens Saturday 14 May, 10am - 1pm.