NMAG regularly invites exhibition scouts worldwide to share their views on art exhibitions showcasing young talent, enabling you to participate in that experience however remote you might be. Cape Town scouts Lambi Chibambo and Masechaba Moloi recently visited the graduate exhibition of the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in Cape Town, South Africa and highlight the work of artists Kirsten MacKrill, Thandiwe Msebenzi and Rory Emmett.
text by Cape Town Exhibition Scouts Lambi Chibambo and Masechaba Moloi
photos courtesy of the artists, Michaelis Gallery and Lambi Chibambo and Masechaba Moloi
A visual surplus of colour, creation and social debate. This year’s Michaelis graduate exhibition was, in our opinion, a true showcase of the growing artistic expression in South Africa.
Some of the artworks, such as a series of images by Kirsten MacKrill, depicted the omission in the historical recount of the systematic oppressive regime termed Apartheid. This was achieved by capturing the essence of once prominent academic strongholds in what are now considered poor communities. These schools acted as catalysts during the anti-apartheid movement in the Western Cape and were highly regarded for their academic excellence. Now these schools act as culturally historical evidence and a testament to the involvement of South Africa’s coloured community during the apartheid struggle. It is these communities that have been forgotten and abandoned by our society while having played a pivotal role in not only the country’s history but future as well. Ironically, the campus of the Michaelis School of Fine Arts, which was built around 1925, was turned into an exhibition space that captured an eerie atmosphere even more so with artwork adorning the stairwells, thus indicating the significance of time and space in various social and political contexts.
Thandiwe Msebenzi discussed the placement and preservation of African traditions in our contemporary society. Her series of images comprised of young men wearing formal attire after returning from the mountain, a widely controversial traditional rite of passage for African males involving circumcision. Typically, artworks of this nature are overlooked or overshadowed due to their discourse around topics which have over time been deemed taboo. The exhibition as a whole is a fine example of the innovation and creative diversity amongst South Africa’s emerging young artists. The combination of installations, sculptures and artworks took us on a visually enlightening and euphoric adventure that made you want to engage both mentally, physically and emotionally with the art.
From Rory Emmet’s collection, as exhibition scouts and artists, we came to learn of the life basic geometry can give to colour by accentuating light and dark, shades and curves so to speak. The artworks remained simple yet powerful as they represented the dialogue, or rather lack thereof, between physical and ideological structures. In a single frame, Emmet captures the essence of colour representation in South Africa as an individual and as a people by engaging with the tensions between assumed stereotypes and reality. All the various colours and dimensions created a visual spectrum that hypnotized us, by combining video footage, installations and a series of vividly coloured geometric paintings his exhibition was a standout piece.