'... as we see it' - Group Exhibition

Collection: '... as we see it' - Group Exhibition

... we as see it 

Group Exhibition

26.06.24 - 21.07.24


EBONY/CURATED presents ‘…as we see it’. Presented in conjunction with the inaugural HEAT Winter Arts Festival, for which the theme is Common Ground, this group exhibition highlights the work of twelve artists exploring the festival’s central concern of bringing communities together. Working in a variety of mediums and styles, the artists respond through paintings, interspersed with leather, thread, marbles and beads. This is the world, the show seems to suggest …as we see it, the word ‘we’ encompassing not a common gaze but a series of scintillations, that is, little flashes of light that echo but resist coherence.

Aviwe Plaatjie and Feni Chulumanco are both portrait artists who draw inspiration from the everyday environment: family, neighbours, friends. Plaatjie’s subject is certainly familiar; we can tell by the way the painter lovingly attends to details: his ruffled shirt, the sunglasses perched atop his cap, the bitemarks in his pear. Chulumanco’s figures are portrayed with a similar sense of intimacy: they hold each other close, making heart-shapes with their fingers. They are surrounded by images: an impressionist street-scene to their left and, to their right, an austere portrait, suggesting the many ungraspable influences that have drawn this couple together or, perhaps, alluding to the people they have been and might one day be. Kamohelo Blessing Rooi also makes use of this collage technique, combining aspirational images in the style of fashion editorials with those that are more heartfelt (such as a child in a loved one’s arms) or (like carnations in a plastic bottle) mundane.

Thando Phenyane and Liam Van Der Heever approach portraiture from a more symbolic perspective. Phenyane’s figure is menacing: his face is pulled back to reveal two rows of teeth that match, in colour and uncanniness, the fangs of the snakes that surround him. Van Der Heever’s figure is similarly haunted by a big red bird whose webbed foot presses into his crying eye. Both operate in the realm of surrealism, much like Sechaba Nyenye’s composition, which sees a bulbous pink figure hunched over a magical, psychedelic-hued dreamscape, while the beaded mask-face of some spirit or god looks on. Raymond Fuyana’s strange world of levitating chairs, melting doors and floating sofas offers another vision in which the ties that bind the known world become frayed.

At first glance, Hanna Noor Mohamed’s abstracted forms are performing a similar function, that is, untethering our eyes from the real. But a peek at the title, The Birth of Rhodes, immediately conjures images of protestors toppling the eponymous imperialist’s monument so as to usher in a future imagined askew. Likewise, Lindisipho Gulwa’s (Ebukhosini) Royalty Memories uses abstraction to conjure memories in the form of loosely tessellated shapes in burnt tones of gold, orange and red. The palette is reminiscent of Abongile Sidzumo’s leather cutoffs, which are dyed red, orange, brown and white and stitched onto canvas in a composition that recalls sedimentary strata, coalescing into a landscape. This is echoed in Rentia Retief’s hazy, golden-hour mountain scene, painted en-plein-air. A sunset-soaked sea can be made out, just slightly, in the distance, a sea in which Balekane Legoabe’s pregnant whale may be sheltering, for this work––made of ink, watercolour, graphite and thread on crumpled paper––shares the same kind of sunlight, mellow and eggshell-hued.

This body of work amassed offers abundant ways of seeing and, thus, a challenge to the viewer: what common ground might we find in these stray images? How about the delicacy of hands (Phenyane, Rooi)? Or a certain orange tone (Mahomed, Gulwa)? How about those materials that carry with them a long history (Sidzumo’s leather, Nyenye’s beads)? Or emotional relationships to landscape (Retief, Fuyana)? There are many connections to be drawn here, and …as we see it refers just as much to the artists accumulated as it does the viewers’ interpretation thereof. “We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves,” John Berger reminds us in Ways of Seeing. “Our vision is continually active, continually moving, continually holding things in a circle around itself, constituting what is present to us as we are.” This is the question that …as we see it ultimately asks: how do we constitute the world?

-Keely Shinners


Participating Artists

Feni Chulumanco

Raymond Fuyana

Lindisipho Gulwa

Balekane Legoabe

Hanna Noor Mahomed

Sechaba Nyenye

Thando Phenyane

Aviwe Plaatjie

Rentia Retief

Kamohelo Blessing Rooi

Abongile Sidzumo

Liam Van Der Heever


Please join us for the opening on Thursday 11 July at 6 pm.

Works on exhibition

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