Saturday, June 4, 2011

Zwelethu Mthethwa: New Works

We saw this exhibition on Thursday and it's been on my mind ever since.
Selections from the series The Brave Ones:
Large portraits of young men from the Shembe Church group during their annual pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Nhlangakazi in Kwa-Zulu Natal.
I love large photographs and I found the subject matter interesting, but the images didn't speak to me - I wouldn't want to live with any of them. In this genre I'm an admirer of Pieter Hugo's work - somehow he manages to capture his subjects with such consummate empathy.

Because of Zwelethu Mthethwa's background as a painter, his photographic work is often described as 'painterly'. Regarding this series, reference is made to the rich colour and texture - this was another thing I didn't particularly like about it. Too much yellow in the mix makes for a saturated image lacking depth and richness.
But... the other series - The End of an Era, these I loved. They are still life interiors of hostels for migrant male labourers in Johannesburg. They could just as well be contemporary paintings by old masters.

Traditional chiaroscuro, points of vivid light in sumptuous brown darkness. The everyday becomes filled with portent. You wonder about the occupant and you wonder what's behind you in the room.
I wanted to see them without the glass.

iArt Gallery, 71 Loop Street, until 29 June

1 comment:

tanja said...

this is a review I can read, the images I can picture in my mind, and nary an artjargonjumble term litters the text. reviews, keep em coming miss tart.