Press Releases - Commune.1

Ayanda Mabulu
State of blackness
7 August - 10 September 2014

Commune.1 is proud to announce the open studio of poet and artist Ayanda Mabulu. Following a two-month in-gallery residency at Commune.1 Mabulu’s large-scale paintings and paper works are presented in progress along with materials, visual references, writings on the wall and other outcomes of his creative process. According to the artist, working in this way in the gallery space is like a mirror of the unfinished business of racial redress and thus assumes a performative function.
In this new body of work the artist’s message is once again a highly politicized one. The contradictions of our current politics – evinced by Marikana – are conflated with the psychological and physical harm inflicted on the black body during colonialism. Mabulu employs visual placeholders for these systems of repression in addition to both recognizable and anonymous politicians and colonial figures.
Like in his previous solo exhibitions, Mabulu demonstrates the political reach of the artists’ provocation. Under the license of free expression, the artist reimagines new relationships between living and past figures of power implicating them in various acts of violence or sexually compromised behavior. Thus, by evoking scenarios that are not easily conjured up with other mediums, Mabulu’s work represents a contribution to the advancement of politicized painting and to the role of the artist as activist. According to Mabulu, “we need an evolution through art because we are not achieving our freedom through politics”. The exhibition title, ‘State of blackness’, further suggests an assessment of current identity politics and the indicators of racism in South Africa.

Ayanda Mabulu was born in King William’s Town in 1981. He is a self-taught artist and started drawing and painting at a young age. Solo exhibitions have taken place in China at the Chenshia Museum (2011) and 'Un-mute my tongue' at World Art in Cape Town. Recent group exhibitions include 'Our Fathers' at The AVA Gallery (2012), Greatmore Studio Showcase (2012) and the Bag Factory in Johannesburg (2012). Mabulu has taken part in numerous residencies: Greatmore Art Studios (2011-2013), Chenshia Museum in China (2011), Bag Factory Thupelo workshop in Johannesburg.

Gordon Clark
Groot Geraak
7 August - 10 September 2014

Commune.1 is pleased to announce the upcoming solo exhibition titled Groot Geraak by South African photographer and filmmaker Gordon Clark.
Groot Geraak (Became Big) examines the life of Quentino, a young boy growing up in Elsies River on the Cape Flats, an area that has been plagued by endemic gang violence. Quentino and his peers are photographed at various stages over a three-year period in an attempt to locate defining moments in their lives. Clark expresses a personal interest in these defining moments and their potential implications; here the individual is pitted against powerful collective agents. In areas where these agents have a strong presence, individual identity gives way to survival and the need to conform.
Despite the careful staging of each image, Groot Geraak is an expression of Quentino’s life, complete with portents of his future. The tension resides between a staged performance on the one hand and the re-enactment of actual moments on the other, hence the powerful evocation of a hyper-reality. Whatever direction Quentino’s future may take, the images present an all-too-familiar reality of youth at the mercy of gang influence. In this sense, Quentino’s narrative is a placeholder for so many others. The success of these images – high in production value and residing in the distinct world of fine art – is measured in the response it elicits from the viewer, be it mistrust or anger at the photographer, or anger at the conditions of the young lives exposed. In asking difficult questions about the politics of representation, persistent racial and class divides, and by facing our own discomfort at the images (in the ‘safety’ of the gallery), we are implicated in a collective groot geraak. Thus we move towards a deeper understanding of the human condition in a polarised context.

Gordon Clark (b.1955 Johannesburg) photographs those rare individuals within society who challenge our inherent beliefs and jar our aesthetic aspirations. He weaves complex narratives by inserting subjects into deliberately choreographed natural environments, which compel viewers to interpret the powerful dilemmas at play within each subject’s life. Clark has previously focused his practice on the life details of Turner Adams, an alter-boy turned convict whose twenty-four years of hard prison life has hardened his glare and ‘marked’ every square centimeter of his skin with tattoos. Before that he collaborated with Leon Botha, 24-year old artist who was living with Progeria.
Gordon Clark has had numerous solo shows including: ‘Turner Adams: The Outcome’ at Commune.1 (2013), ‘Gordon Clark: Selection’ at ARTCO Gallery, Germany (2012), ‘Who Am I? – Transgressions – Gordon Clark and Leon Botha’ shown in Amsterdam, Germany and South Africa (2010-2011), ‘What is Familiar?’ at Odes Gallery, Cape Town (2009) and ‘Transitions’, Museum of Tolerance, USA (2002).
Currently Clark lives and works as a photographer and filmmgroaker in Cape Town.

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