Morné Visagie, Die Bloue Wis, Nuweland.
Nuweland is a new addition to the GalleryViewer platform: a gallery that goes off the beaten track in terms of content, but also in a literal sense. Anke and Wiebren Bergsma lived in South Africa for many years and made the observation that our Western view of South African art and design often does not correspond with reality. Anke: “When it comes to South African art, most people tend to think of masks and animal skins. But it is much more than that. We think Africa has something to tell the rest of the world in terms of art and design.” When Anke and Wiebren bought a house near the Table Mountain (in the "Newlands": "Nuweland") and started looking for furniture, they discovered that mass production doesn’t really have a central place in South Africa. A few years ago, the couple moved back to the Netherlands, accompanied by two young children. They moved to a beautiful and bright farm in Friesland, which they completely renovated with attention to the original details. Now you will encounter a beautiful showroom with an intriguing combination of South African art and design.
Next year will mark 25 years since the abolition of apartheid. A new South African constitution made discrimination based on race, colour and sexual orientation illegal. The gallery represents a series of young artists who often deal with the recent history of the country in their work — and particularly with the traces it has left behind when it comes to racism, privilege, class and sexual orientation. In this article, three artists from the gallery are highlighted.
Morné Visagie, ALTARPIECE (WILL WE FOREVER TRAVEL INTO THE VOID?), 2020, Nuweland.
The colour blue plays an important role in the work of Morné Visagie. He uses an abstract visual language to start a conversation about the complicated past of his motherland. The colour blue literally represents the ocean that was so ubiquitous in his youth. He grew up on the infamous Robben Island, where political prisoners like Nelson Mandela were kept prisoner. For Visagie, the colour symbolises death, loss, nostalgia, memory, religion, sexuality, exile and distance. Blue also represents the distance he felt towards the mainland. Visagie lived on the island for only five years, yet it has occupied a lively and formative place in his imagination. He interweaves those memories with historical facts and the stories he later encountered in literature and in film. The South African poet and writer Ingrid Jonker is an important source of inspiration for his work, as is Virginia Woolf. But Visagie also refers to his own privileged youth in his work. Sometimes his works almost resemble the bottom of a swimming pool, referring to the luxurious lifestyle that the more fortunate groups were able to enjoy enjoy. One of his gigantic altar works was recently on show at Big Art. During Art Rotterdam he showed an impressive fan (or perhaps a piece of clothing?), Made from the foil of Prosecco bottles from the luxury local brand Krone (Cuvée Brut).
Nabeeha Mohamed, Decadence, 2020, Nuweland.
Nabeeha Mohamed’s remarkably personal work also grapples with the complexities and contradictions surrounding identity and the class privileges in South Africa, that arose after the abolition of apartheid. Mohamed deliberately uses oversaturated colours for her paintings in colour combinations that might appear a bit abrasive or jarring, effectively continuing the Bad Painting tradition. Mohamed grew up after apartheid, as one of the few women of colour at a predominantly white girls' school in Cape Town. During her childhood she was urged to adapt to white culture, which meant that for a long time, she suppressed parts of her identity. These paintings offer her a way to explore those parts of herself. At the same time, she also explores the ways in which she herself benefits from the capitalist, class-based economy. Mohamed: "The work is autobiographical and attempts to both dissect and celebrate my identity as a woman of colour but also as a person of class privilege. I try to focus a lot of my work on joy because I think being a person of colour in this world and celebrating everything that it encompasses is, in and of itself, an act of resistance.” In many of her paintings, Mohamed adds symbols of melancholy in the background: from withering flowers to ominous shadows and dangerous animals. Mohamed also regularly depicts stereotypes in her work, such as the fetishisation of women of colour, who often see their physical characteristics reduced to food analogies - like almond eyes or a caramel colour. Mohamed: “It stems from the problematic tendency to compare our physical features to food; as if our bodies, like food, are there to be consumed.” For her paintings, Mohamed is inspired by everyday elements in her life: from a vase of flowers to small details in her interior. She also makes stylised portraits of her own face and the people around her.
Banele Khoza, I Am Happy, 2020, Nuweland.
Banele Khoza initially enrolled at the London International School of Fashion in Johannesburg, but soon after that, he took a different path. His exceptional drawings won him prestigious prizes and a residency in Paris. In 2019, Khoza was selected by the South African weekly Mail & Guardian as one of 200 Young South Africans to keep an eye on. Khoza got his first solo exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum when he was just 22 years old. His romantic and dreamy portraits look vulnerable and “unfinished”. Thematically he is concerned with erotic desires, the boundaries between the private and the public and the complex and diverse expressions of masculinity and homosexuality. For his works he uses pencil, lithograph, digital mediums, acrylic, gouache, ink and so-called "tusche" washes. Khoza grew up in Swaziland but moved to South Africa during his high school days. Khoza: “I appreciate the freedom I get from living in South Africa, tackling gender norms and also the idea of painting. There is a rich culture and appreciation of the Arts in this country and it inspires me further. I would have been in a box if I was based in Swaziland – however living in South Africa has allowed me to create my own identity that knows of no boundaries.” In addition to being an artist, Khoza also works as a curator in a gallery slash open studio that he founded himself. He also offers other artists a stage there.
See all artists represented by Nuweland