I had recently visited a number of exhibitions which had given me fresh ideas about abstraction: Postwar: Art Between the Pacific and the Atlantic, 1945-1965 (Munich, 2016) and Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 (London, 2017), being two stand out examples. I was especially interested in a group of artists associated with ‘Black abstraction’ from the second half 20th century, most of whose work I was familiar with but had not always had the context for. Then I re-read James Baldwin’s short story ’Sonny’s Blues’. And now I stood before Rembrandt’s painting Oopjen Coppit. My intuition told me they were connected. I began to write, the outcome of which is an essay about Oopjen, Black Aesthetics, and abstraction.
Matloga’s work is political, personal and universal at the same time. Growing up in a deeply troubled, racist society does leave its traces. These are counterbalanced by family life, love, friendship and the joy of living.
Machtel Leij on Neo Matloga
(first published: July 4, 2019)
Engaging with the historical economies of racist imagery through citation and repetition, his art shows how “visual referents circulating in different geographic and exhibitionary context generate their own image worlds,” countering the commodification or invisibility of black bodies.
Jean-Christophe Maur on Thebe Phetogo
Blackbody Composite siren, 2020, courtesy Kó and the artist
(first published: November 5, 2021
“The wealth of African countries does not have to do with money, it is their culture and their traditions. Therefore it is so important that we process traditional culture in our work and at the same time show that we are open for external influences.” Abdoulaye Konaté