• 18 February 2022 - 20 February 2022

KZNSA Gallery is at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, 18-20 February 2022, Cape Town International Convention Centre.

 

KZNSA transforms the local arts community through activating and incubating contemporary ideas, artists, and cultural production. As the leading contemporary art gallery in KwaZulu-Natal we are excited to announce our participation in the Cape Town Art Fair. Our presentation includes the works of three KZN-based artists; Sphephelo Mnguni, Siphesihle Ntsungwana and Siobahn Doughty

 

[TEXT BY NKGOPOLENG MOLOI]

For the 2022 Investec Cape Town Art Fair, KZNSA Gallery brings together three painters; Siphesihle Ntsungwana, Sphephelo Mnguni and Siobahn Doughty. The presentation offers a cross-sectional view of figuration through three distinct styles. Following in the tradition of realism, the work extends conversations around identity and how it can be understood both inside and outside its complex converges through class, sexuality and race. The artists offer a poetic exploration of the possibilities of painting within the logic of figuration stretched through the inclusion of embroidery and a printing method using boiled bougainvillea flowers (Doughty).

 

Through her pastel portraits rendered in soft pink, Doughty draws our attention to the simultaneous existence of strength and vulnerability in the feminine masculine. In Soft Boy I - VI she depicts well known young men whose arresting and intentional gaze gently poke at our accepted notions of how we might understand masculinity and femininity. She notes; “In the series “Soft Boys” I choose to depict famous men in contemporary culture, who take on a “soft boy” aesthetic (popularised on social media) that freely displays and embraces femininity through their clothing, makeup and personalities”. She elaborates further; “I paint the portraits of these men, who are idolised as the heartthrobs of today, through a female vantage point where the attraction to these figures is directed at their femininity.” Parallel to her paintings in the presentation, Doughty introduces materiality through her two works We Are Still Here and You Can See Me which use a different visual language to investigate the effects of misogyny and patriarchy.

 

Through a sharp focus on colour, particularly using one hue at a time, Ntsungwana investigates how colour can be used to describe a mood or a feeling. He notes; “I believe each and every colour has its own conceptual meaning, so I use those colours to describe both how I feel as the creator of the work and the figures that are created within the work.” In Gone, Gone / Thank You Ntsungwana depicts a glamourous young woman…. posing, watching, waiting. Her background is a lush landscape filled with trees, a vintage car and a hot air balloon in the near distant sky. Space has shaped itself around her body, allowing her to take centre stage. The work is aspirational and intriguing and pulls us into the protagonist’s world as interested spectators. Through the frame, Ntsungwana sets up labyrinthine scenes that remain a mystery. Imposter Syndrome, for instance, could be a scene from a dream — clouded in a sea of blue, a young man and his possessions are jutted into space or perhaps in free fall, indicating feelings of anxiety and concern. Ntsungwana’s paintings induce a feeling of sonder — the profound feeling of realizing that strangers and passers-by have complex inner lives filled with intricate details, despite our personal lack of awareness of it. Through these paintings, we are, at least for a moment, drawn to a stranger’s life and their sense of interiority.

 

Mnguni’s images are a documentation of South African Black youth culture. In My Youth: South Africa he depicts a tote-bag carrying young man standing by a storefront. Through his posture we can read that he is contemplative, considering some important matter. The word “BLACK” is unreservedly painted on the signage, an annotation through which we can read Mguni’s interest in blackness. The artist explains that he “creates portraits of black subjects which boldly address the viewer and call for recognition beyond cultural stereotypes, inspired by inequalities observed and experienced in his daily life, and by discourses of blackness in South Africa and in the African diaspora.” Mnguni’s paintings are sensual and extremely painterly with smooth brushstrokes that create a pleasantly smooth and mellow texture. Part of the artist’s practice includes a focus on homage - making images that are inspired by friends, acquaintances and even celebrities such as in I Hope This Letter Finds You Well, which depicts the late Virgil Abloh who inspired Mnguni through his multidisciplinarity. Practices of homage are typically rooted in celebration, My Youth: South Africa, is in fact a celebration of a dear friend Nkhensani Mkhari, a curator and artist whose journey through the art landscape Mnguni finds inspiring and worthy of honouring.

 

Read alongside each other the works in the presentation gesture towards painting as a means of exploration and experimentation. In another sense, they point to how the most remarkable shared feelings of connection can appear through simple conditions, whether its images of young men captured staring through the canvas (Soft Boy), youth going about their day (My Youth: South Africa) or young women staring into nothingness (No Pressure) — evoking Robert Morris’ assertion that interesting art is at times that which does not seek to historicize narrative or elicit structure, transcendence or heroic scale.

 

 

Investec Cape Town Art Fair showcases a diversity of work that represents the forefront of contemporary art from Africa to the world and the world to Cape Town. It is the ‘largest art fair on the African continent, showing cutting edge contemporary art. The fair provides a platform for galleries, collectors, curators and artists from around the globe to engage in cultural and economic exchange.’- https://www.investeccapetownartfair.co.za 

 


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