WHAT LIES BENEATH - New Art from South Africa, 11 August - 9 September 2006

The exhibition 'What Lies Beneath – New Art from South Africa' presents works by Wim Botha, Mustafa Maluka and Deborah Poynton, who have lately manifested themselves with powerful contributions to the art scene in South Africa and internationally.

 

South Africa is undergoing a furious, cultural development. Now, more than ten years after the first democratic elections in the country, a new generation of contemporary artists has emerged. A generation that is not burdened by laws of racial segregation and censorship, and a generation who have long ago risen above the horizon of their once isolated home country. Influenced by South Africa’s multicultural reality, the young artists confront the sins of the past and the conflicts of the present through personal and highly engaged works and projects.

 

'What Lies Beneath – New Art from South Africa' presents three artists, who each in their distinctive way reflect on both our presence in the world as well as identity, position and category. The three join thematically in the exploration of how the identity relentlessly produces difference and distance as a consequence of its own cultural peculiarity. Wim Botha explores in his installations and sculptures the mythological relation between the body and the divine. With the inclusion of historical icons such as the portrait bust or the coat of arms, Botha points to religion’s paradoxical secular character. Botha often represents the body in a baroque, ecstatic state, and we typically meet it in a partly ruined or fragmented form.

 

Mustafa Maluka questions in his works issues around black masculinity and representation. In colourful paintings, which reference graffiti, hip hop and pop culture, Maluka shows facets of the liberated black man. Nevertheless, the bright colours hide a dark background, and one becomes aware through Maluka’s works of the white, European spectators’ traditionally reductive representation of the black man. Deborah Poynton unfolds in her seemingly hyper realistic paintings an inner, psychological landscape. The nude figures in Poynton’s works seem to lay bare their innermost soul to the viewer. However, in Poynton’s works the body is yet another image which captivates the viewer in a relationship of seduction and desire. A relationship, which nevertheless remains unsolved.