"IN RESPONSE TO THE UNKNOWN"
Medium : Limited-edition, Linocut - 2019
Size : 800mm (width) x 1000mm (height) (unframed)
Price : POA
This new series of hand-coloured linocuts is based on Blessing Ngobeni’s 2016 exhibition at Everard Read’s CIRCA gallery,
THE SONG OF THE CHICOTTE.
Ngobeni used the chicotte (a French term for a whip used by colonialists in the 19th century) as a metaphor for slavery in general – not just historical slavery but slavery of the mind, the spirit – in the country, our relationships, ourselves. We brutalise ourselves and each other, perpetuate the patterns that we have inherited: the sins of the fathers are, more often than not, still being visited on their children. Instead of these old patterns, Ngobeni urges us towards a new vision of the world – one not ruled by the hyenas of old, who wear different guises and inflict the same punishments.
Blessing Ngobeni (b. 1985, Tzaneen, lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa)
is the recipient of the 2020 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for the Visual Arts. Since receiving the Reinhold Cassirer Award in 2011, he has attended residencies at the Headlands Centre for Art in San Francisco (2014), the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion Program (2016), as well as programs in New York and France. His work has received wide critical acclaim, and has been featured in solo exhibitions at Everard Read Johannesburg (2016, 2017, 2018), Everard Read Cape Town (2018), and Everard Read London (2018). His work has also been included in international art fairs such as Art X Lagos (2019), UNTITLED Miami Beach (2018), Expo Chicago (2017, 2018), AIPAD (2018), PULSE Miami Beach (2017), and Art Miami (2016, 2019).
Working predominantly on canvas,
he uses collage and acrylic paint to create complex forms containing vast amounts of detail within. He has also produced steel sculpture and video work. His oeuvre demonstrates his investigation of politics, society and social media.
Ngobeni is known for his distinctive style, created with layers of acrylic washes, exaggerated figures and collage, accompanied by unapologetic titles such as ‘Democracy is a Dust Bin’, or ‘A Study of Corruption’. He uses his expressionist paintings not only to overtly critique the current status quo, but to ask uncomfortable questions about the African’s experience of the world. His languages also draw inspiration from various movements, including Surrealism and Neo-Expressionism. He re-examines and re-imagines working ideas by artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Koloane and Pablo Picasso.