Matereality presents a survey of emerging and established artists in the 21st century who use particular media in deliberate, surprising and innovative ways. While focused primarily on South African art, it also highlights some examples from the rest of the continent.
A work of art can never be separated from its physical material and this inescapable truth has been subject to investigation for a long time. Contemporary artists are continuing this exploration in new, exciting and, often, urgent ways that lend insight into their reality, and, in turn, challenge traditional notions around what materials are suited to art-making.
In a time of mass production and consumption, mixed media artists are the ultimate recyclers, living in a world of endless art supplies and possibilities. The works in this exhibition will give a sense of some of the approaches explored. Some artists employ industrial materials and methods, while others adopt craft skills, or put throwaway consumer products to new uses. In other cases, artists use the more traditional materials in pioneering ways.
Matereality unpacks how artists have used materials, whether directly or indirectly, to raise questions about larger societal concerns. The exhibition depicts, among many realities, climate and environmental issues, consumerism, technology, globalisation, xenophobia, migration, religion, beauty, gender, sexuality, and politics. In an increasingly digitised world, honouring the materiality and physicality of a work is also a return to the tangible and real.
The imaginative use of materials reminds us that in a time of increasing ecological challenges and decreasing resources, it is even more important than ever for us to reimagine and re-contextualise the material world around us.
Aaron Samuel Mulenga
Akudzwe Elsie Chiwa
Athi Patra Ruga
Mawande Ka Zenzile
Serge Attukwei Clottey