Once I'd been through the emotional ride that was João Silva's Retrospective, showing at Museum Africa, I happened upon a wonderful surprise that is The Good Nostalgia Group Exhibition, showing literally next door . This was the kind of unexpected afternoon delight that was so needed to detox from the violent images I'd seen just a few moments before.
This showing was compiled by a group of artists in Soweto (they have no online presence). They used all manner of material that was available to them: plastic, wool, paper, sand, beads, vinyl and dung (amongst others). The arrangement of the exhibit is very open and interactive; they have a good use of space (which is quite rare for novice artists in a group showing). I particularly enjoyed the scattering of materials that were used in the final pieces, such as pieces of vinyl and yarn strewn just beneath artworks whose form was comprised of vinyl and yarn.
The works on show are colourful with unbridled styles, covering a variety of topics; although I mostly got the sense of a show of technique rather than subject matter. There are works of art made entirely of plastic bottle tops, the work is intricate and fine.
The works of art that captured my imagination were by Sinalethemba Ntuli with fantastic beaded canvasses. These seem a complex and elaborate body of work; but captivating and intricately beautiful. I've never seen light and shadow used in glass beads (which themselves capture light); but the grades used show a great use of tone considering the challenge of the material. There are also works in tapestry in a similar fashion.
There were works made with bread, whose texture mirrors that of sand art. The artists that worked with cow dung as pigment, not only had canvas pieces, but also an interactive instillation. The work may not speak much, but that use of material is rare, and the results are delightful, non-representation pieces which use mainly geometric forms.
I spent a large amount of time lost in the works of Joseph Monatlala: who has created an installation out of engraved mental sheets on board, treated with paint and rust laid out on soil. It is essentially a six-panel chamber that you can enter, entitled, Reveal, and Re-circle which shows the transformation of a physical human being into an almost animalistic form -- much as one would shed their physical selves in a spiritual transformation. In there you get an intimate look at oneself; and what is the work of an artist if not to scratch at your very make up?!
Despite the lack of marketing, and the lack of information; we were escorted around the exhibit by a member of the group. And by all accounts, this was perhaps the most moving exhibition I've seen in many months. There is much to be said about the voices of artists not yet refined; not yet beaten by the world of curatorship and patronage -- free artistry, 'tis a beautiful thing.