This is the last article in a series of articles on the friendship between ‘two’ African American artists, a “friendship beyond understanding”. In every article The Harlem Renaissance is the context of the story. This article is about the friendship between the poet and novelist Claude McKay and the activist poet Charles Ashleigh.
It is obvious that, for these Zimbabwean artists, migration is not just a topic or a social issue, but life experiences. Just as those who work in South Africa to make a living, many of the artists are also here, above on everything else, to make a living through their creativity.
Lifang Zhang on Zimbabwean artists migrated to South Africa
Takudzwa Leeroy Guzha. The sick in prayer, ink on canvas, 202p
The Medium is the Message we can therefore say finds purpose in curating nuanced work. It contains work from a group of artists that explores shades of colour, blackness and identity. It seeks to “return to the raw constituents of painting, to find what can be said about black identity today, through medium alone.”
Christabel Johanson reviews the exhibition The Medium is The Message in London
Eniwaye Oluwaseyi. A Branch and Two, 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas. 100 x 80 cm.
(…) Rashid Johnson’s photographs are arenas of action, places where people come together and cultures comingle. Seeing in the Dark and the abstractions are deeply personal works. However different they might seem, they both explore the conflicts and convergences of the artist’s race and class, and the dual spaces he inhabits as a middle class Black American. The portraits are encounters that help him to test, and sometimes bridge, the social divides within his life and his community; the abstractions, on the other hand, are an almost Utopian space where the bedrocks of two cultures can co-exist and flourish. Together these two series, made when the artist was very young, laid the foundation for all of the mature explorations to come.
Shelley Rice on Rashid Johnson’s Seeing in the Dark
Jonathan (Seeing in the Dark Series), 1999, Gelatin Silver Print, 40, 3 x 50,8 cm
The two artists seem to be working differently and hitting at two opposite ends of an aesthetic but they are together mainly because they work with recycled material. They give a chance and a new life to what would have destroyed our environment if it was just thrown around and not put into good use like they have. Perhaps there work becomes more important now that it hinges unto our living and welfare as humans today.