The most potent feature of the exhibition Samsāra: journey of the soul on show at the Cultural History Museum in Pretoria (until 24 March 2013) is the overwhelming darkness that surrounds the installations. Darkness is a feature that work with the lightening to accentuate what this exhibition is about and as much as the visitor to this exhibition may be overwhelmed by the darkness they will inevitably be pulled towards the light and what they will find in the pools of light are evolving formations of circular and cylindrical shapes embossed with delicate spiralling patterns; flowery forms potent with discoveries within them, this potency of discoveries is succinctly nuanced in the work ‘108’ an installation occupying the centre of the exhibition. I shall come back to this work shortly as it is a reflection of strides the artist has made to date.
The formations I have just hinted on enforces their presence in raw whiteness and a sparingly use of colour fashioned out of clay and are set up against an embossed fabriano paper. The embossment itself is so faintly visible at first glance but the viewer’s active engrossment into the question that torments everybody who looks at art, which is – what is this? Will ensure that the viewer finally picks up the patterned shapes that have been pressed on white paper in a sequence mimicking a transition from flatness to three dimensional expression. The white paper and the illuminating light gives the content of the work a centre stage in the enveloping darkness that surrounds all six installations.
Viewing this art exhibition with the awareness of the artist’s earlier work the viewer will realise a remarkable move towards suspended installation. Punctuating this recent development is the fact that the five works comprising this exhibition are traditionally viewed on pedestals with a top down view. Whereas the work Samsāra: 108 installation is at eye level.
Having made this breakthrough it is quite safe to say that the work Purvi points a direction towards this development of suspended installation of which perhaps we might see more of as the oeuvre of the artist expands in years to come. In the work Purvi, the title rhymes with the artist’s first name, we encounter an evolution towards a completed cylindrical shape. First on a pedestal against a white cloth, then the various stages of meticulously threaded clay grow from a curved line into a circle with a hole in it that gradually closes as the shape’s successive stages moves from circle to cylinder as they meet the adjacent wall at 90 degrees and propped against it until at the final stage and at eye level you have a circular cylindrical shape closed in the middle. You can see the hole in the middle of the shape closes as the form approaches the complete stage of its metamorphoses.
Here is an artwork that can be looked upon as a portrait of Poorvi Bana the artist! That all those rigorous years spent at Tshwane University Of Technology training as an artist and entering art competitions have finally coming into fruition. How else will an artist risk everything by opting for a solo exhibition if they have not grown in confidence?
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2013