Kemang Wa Lehulere: Here I am, a concrete man, throwing himself into abstraction
Cape Town, until 10 March 2018, Stevenson Gallery
Detention 3 (bad-boy) (detail) 2018.
STEVENSON is pleased to present Here I am, a concrete man, throwing himself into abstraction, a solo exhibition by Kemang Wa Lehulere.
Detention 1, 2018.
Using sculpture, installation and drawing, Wa Lehulere continues his questioning of historical narratives while exploring new formal possibilities.
In Here I am, a concrete man, throwing himself into abstraction, a line taken from his father’s journal, Wa Lehulere expands his visual vocabulary. Wood is deconstructed and singed; metal is reconstituted and glass is weighted as the artist exploits familiar materials to create unexpected objects.
This exploration of the movement from concretisation to the abstract hinges on refracting tensions rather than linear resolution. Wooden structures tethered to and bound by shoelaces reference the childhood game of catching birds, but the objects do not disguise their predatory nature even in their stillness. Both bird and catcher are evoked as the works offer multiple statements from a single utterance, suggesting both innocence and incarceration.
I was never here (detail), 2018.
I was never here, 2018.
Glass bottles contain unreadable messages, and piano hammers maintain the silence of unsung songs. In Here I am, a concrete man, throwing himself into abstraction Wa Lehulere foregrounds the poetics of the suspended and the implied, excavating the metaphoric fecundity of the unrealised gesture.
Internal Landscape 1, 2017./Meteor Shower, 2017
Wa Lehulere has recently won the Malcolm McLaren Award presented by Performa for his work I Cut My Skin to Liberate the Splinter. The prize is bestowed in recognition of artists who stage ‘an innovative and thought-provoking performance’ during the New York-based biennial.
Matric 2015-2018 (detail)
This is Wa Lehulere’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.