Interrogating the mind of an artist that may die tomorrow

This group exhibition interrogates issue of existence during uncertain times

By Edward Tsumele

It is a Saturday morning and I was looking forward to the opening of an important group exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery in Braamfontein. But then my mood was on the low side as I lost my phone on my way there, and the criminals were already busy trying to fleece my contacts of their money sending WhatsApp messages from my phone making all kinds of ridiculous claims such as that I was arrested and  in need of bail money.

These criminals are daring and will do anything to relieve people of their hard earned money. One wonders why they do not use their creativity to do proper work and earn proper legitimate living instead of causing misery to other people’s lives.

So you can imagine going to an exhibition opening under those circumstances and the feeling of sudden loss of an important instrument of communication.  

One is bound to be in an anxious mood that can unsettle you and therefore interfere with your experience of an exhibition. However once I set my foot on the doors of the gallery, I found myself forget about my loss as I immersed myself in the art adorning the walls of the gallery. This group show has main themes, some of it celebratory, some emotive, such as the work of Cape Town based artist Robyn Pretorius.

All pictures  by Siphephile Sibanyoni 

I felt myself motivated and regaining the strength to deal with the loss of my essential communication tool. Such is the power of art that when well curated and presented, such as in this case, art is capable of transporting a viewer to different places that one could only dream about.

In one moment you are forced to think deeply about the existential question, especially during difficult and uncertain times, such as now when the world is facing a pandemic such as Covid 19, and the next moment the art will take you into a space of calmness and peace. It is all in the mind that is guided by your eyes as you look deeply into the messages contained in these art works.  Some of the message is overt, while in other art pieces such as in the abstract art  on display at this exhibition, the message is nuanced and covet.

Art is really a living, beautiful thing that connects with people emotionally and psychologically.

The Impossibility Of Painting In The Mind Of An Artist That May Die Tomorrow group exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery, Johannesburg is running until October 31, 2020.

”The title references Damien Hirst’s seminal work “the physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living” as this point of theoretical departure seems to be even more relevant if not poignant in these unprecedented times. Considering the current state of the world, artists are contemplating the big questions behind mortality and the purpose of art-making. This question is made ever more reflexive when posed at a time of heightened hysteria, anxiety, uncertainty and potential chance to lose one’s life at any given moment,” says the curator’s note.

This group exhibition intends to interrogate the emotional states of a cross-section of exceptional painters from different generational viewpoints and backgrounds who have been working steadily throughout the lockdown months.

.The Impossibility Of Painting In The Mind Of An Artist That May Die Tomorrow is on at Kalashnikovv Gallery until October 31. The gallery is situated at 70 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.  The exhibition features the work of Samson Mnisi,  Matthew Dean Dowdie, Robyn Pretorius, Sue Pam-Grant, Khaya Witbooi and Craig Smith.

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