Intraparadox, a correspondence with Senzo Njabulo Shabangu

18 February 2021

Triptych, ‘In Dedication’ the new nucleus

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On February 4, 2021, the artist Senzo Njabulo Shabangu shared a series of images from his studio via social media. From what I saw, it looked as if he had just finished working on what appeared to be a new piece. A closer look at the images revealed a compelling triptych. The work was rich with textures where the cutting tools had found their way in the realisation of form. The work also featured an interplay between image and text. As I looked at the images of this new work, I realised that it was more than half a decade since I last spoke to the artist about his work and life.

‘In Dedication’, the new piece, depicts five figures confidently challenging the viewer’s gaze as they look out of the picture plane. In my first viewing of this artwork, the central figure struck me as a reference to Barack Obama, the former state president of the United States of America with a slight-twist reference to the late former South African state president, Nelson Mandela. But I could have been wrong. I think most first impression of an art experience without the presence of the artist rely on instinctive guessing, visual vocabulary and prior knowledge of the artist’s past work that the viewer has been able to accumulate over time. We can be agreed that the discourse that the work attempts to erect within itself as a narrative, adds to the interactive moment with the artwork. In liberal circles such conclusions are permissible. But often they are nowhere near to what the artist intended to say to us. In our journey to make sense of works of art, we are at liberty to interpret the work in any way in our effort to make sense of it. However, it is the artist who can guide us towards clarity with regard to what the work is really about ///

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The new nucleus is explorable tomorrow

In this instalment of the Intraparadox series, I corresponded with the artist Senzo Njabulo Shabangu to tease-out the message inherent in this new piece ‘In Dedication’. This work is part of a new body of work the artist has just finished working on. The artist openly discusses the conceptual origins that provided the inspirational framework upon which ‘In Dedication’ is based. We learn about the upcoming exhibition that will feature this new body of work by Shabangu at Melrose Gallery, Johannesburg.  

Late summer

© mmutle arthur kgokong 2021

The next interception…

On February 4, Senzo Njabulo Shabangu shared a series of images from his studio via social media. From what I saw, it looked like the artist had just finished working on what appeared to be a new piece. A closer look at the images revealed a compelling triptych. Curiously I reached out to him… my interception with him goes live on Friday, 26 February 2021.

INTRAPARADOX: Interview with Wonder Buhle Mbambo

The Wonder of Comfort

27 November 2020 at about 10:30, BKhz Studio, Johannesburg

Overture

It is always refreshing to become aware of new art, to be acquainted with a new vision. I have had the privilege of sitting down with Wonder Buhle Mbambo. To listen to his life’s journey as an artist up to the point where we were sitting down at BKhz Studio for our interview. That Friday morning, thanks to unforeseen circumstances, I arrived at around ten thirty in Johannesburg, Braamfontein, for an appointment that would have taken place at nine.

Earlier on before the scheduled interview, Banele Khoza and I headed out to a café around the corner for some coffee. For me, a few times I have been there has set this part of the corner of Juta and De Beer Streets as a familiar spot for beverages and light meals. This would possibly be my last coffee there under familiar circumstances. But let me not get ahead of myself. 

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The next interception…

Upcoming blog post: Intraparadox

[We] are happy to announce that the transcript of our interview with Wonder Buhle Mbambo, through the support of BKhz Studio, will be made available this coming Friday morning. It was a privilege to have the chance to intercept Mbambo at this point in his career.

This edition to the Intraparadox archival series, signals the beginning of a new volume in an art historical approach commitment that started with Tshepo Mosopa more than a decade ago.

May we find the artist.

Comfort, the centre piece

Wonder Buhle. Comfort (2020). Acralyc and metallic gold on Canvas. 163X 330 cm (Reserved)

[I] have tried not to be persuaded by my experience of talking to the artist and working on the transcription of our conversation not to read too much on his life’s impact on his work. However as I worked through the text I could not help but notice the symbols at work in his artistic output. These symbols are noticeable in the work Comfort (2020) which is also the title of the solo exhibition on show at BKhz Studio at the moment.   

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All is not permanent…

[As] this year neared its end and people started to shrug off the lethargy that hovered above this year, the sayings; it has been a difficult year, what a strange year it was, became somewhat expected tags to our conversations. I am sure you have encountered many phrases that truly clarifies what this year has been about closest to these phrases.

For some of us the memory of March to August 2020 will remain blank professionally. A shock resulting from an interrupted routine.  Even though the isolation period gave us time with family, honestly it was a forced situation. Suddenly all the issues we have been avoiding as far as family matters are concerned had to be faced head on. Indeed life would never be the same again.  

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Limbo

/an uncertain period of waiting/

Like the rest of everybody these days, I am uncertain when I think about the future. Though, at the start of this difficult moment found myself trying to convince those around me that these dark days will pass. In hindsight I was actually talking to myself when I said that our world was being cast anew. These days, I often lose track of time and live for the moment. Sometimes I have to stop and think what day it is and what I did yesterday. It has been a bit easier over the years though, that is under normal circumstances. The days of the week flowed naturally. With their own rhythm. Even one of the most hated days of all, Monday flew with its charm.

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Translucency

[D]ear reader ever since 21 days lockdown announcement I have been extra conscious of my feeble existence. Don’t get me wrong I know that it’s a fact that there will be a full moon one day without me in this world to expecienc it [you are more than welcome to rewrite that sentence in a manner appropriate to your current state of mind].

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Grip

noun/
The act or instance of grasping and holding firmly.

 

[T]here is a paucity that grips the world in a dazed haze today. It’s like going through an experience you are not equipped to tackle with no choice but to do whatever it takes to go through the experience. It’s a buzz around in circles, but you have to cross the bridge even though you are not sure whether you will make it to the other side or not. But if you do make it to the other side is there anything there?

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