Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2020
14 to 16 February 2020
LIS10 Gallery Milano
Exhibited artist : Mario Macilau, Goncalo Mabunda
Mario Macilau (Mozambique, 1984-)
Through his works restores the dignity of socially isolated groups. Immortalize faces and inhabited places by marginalization and suffering, with the aim of restoring their esteem and respect, as inalienable values. He returns several times to places and people before photographing them, to be able to connect with the subjects and themes that interest them. Through this process, when he photographs, he not only creates images, but transmits a state of mind, that which is perceived beyond injustice.
His art investigates the inalienability of hope and dignity. The Faith series and a new cycle on water, focus on the animism that still exists in Mozambique. In these photos there is no distinction between the object and the man, each element is not random and acts as a link with other dimensions: this is why his photographs show an alternative social complaint, less provocative but more icastic. A real anthropological study about the social abandonment, and not only, that those communities face. A way to protect one’s own culture, spreading it in a globalized environment that tends to neutralize origins, folklore and diversity. A multi-purpose reflection that concerns everyone, not just socially isolated groups.
He lives and works in Maputo, where he grew up and where since he was a boy he worked on the street and among the faces he is now photographing. His career as a photographer begins in 2003 and becomes professional when in 2007 he exchanges his mother’s cell phone with his first camera, then enrolling in the Centro de Formação and Documentação Fotográfica in Maputo. His work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions: in 2016 he was invited to participate in a program and an exhibition with the United Nations Office in Geneva, World Press Photo and Universal Rights Group; only in 2015 he was present at the 56th Venice Biennale, was included in the Making Africa exhibition: A Continent of Contemporary Design by the Vitra Design Museum, curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor, and was presented at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Other noteworthy exhibitions are Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America, at the Saatchi Gallery in London in 2014; Tempo Galeria Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon, 2013; Dak’art Biennial OFF, Dakar, 2012; Rencontres de Bamako, Bamako 2011.
Macilau’s work has also received numerous awards including the European Union Award for Environment (2015), UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary for Visual Arts (2014).
Gonçalo Mabunda (Mozambique, 1975-)
The artist, who represents Mozambique at Venice Biennale 2019, converts in artistic dimension dismantled war materials, that were in use during the long and bloody civil wars – 16-year – that affected his country (Mozambique).
Mabunda appropriates of all kind of war waste, deconstructs them and then assembles them according to personal dynamics, to form masks and thrones with tribal reminiscences characteristic of sub-Saharan culture. The origin of this special technique is to be found in the government program called “Transforming guns into hopes”, to which Mabunda participated since its inception in 1995. The aim of the project was to collect the weapons still extremely widespread on the territory, and destroy most of them while a residual quantity was given to the artists, asking them to “transform” it creatively. In this exhibition in Pietrasanta a selection of masks and thrones will be
Mabunda’s masks have a strong evocative power and maintain the symbolic and ritual values of the ancient African tribal masks that are part of the artist’s culture and tradition, while converted in a contemporary way. With his creations Mabunda condemns the atrocities of war. He points out, in a metaphorical and symbolic way, war’s
hidden and lasting mechanisms and he highlights its indissoluble links with the exercise of political power. The shapes of his masks are troubling, they represent the catharsis in artistic form of war objects – full of nefarious meanings for a country and for the whole humanity (in Mozambique there have been over one million deaths and
4 million refugees due to the civil war). The thrones, symbols of that same power conquered with the weapons that compose them, become striking complaints of the emptiness of a government obtained by violence and they are full evidences of a cultural short circuit between technological modernity (represented by weapons) and the
ancestral identity rituals of the Mozambican people and its collective memory (expressed with subjects like mask and thrones).
Mabunda therefore appears as creator, literally constructor, the one who makes visible, through the work of decomposition and recomposition of form, a further sense of things. A mediator able to ascend the personal dimension up to universal values. The hidden, evoked in the title, refers to new possibility of existence for those objects (weapons) thanks to an aesthetic structure. This new structure doesn’t make the impact of the objects softer but it channels it into a new possibility of meaning that becomes, by contrast, at the same time denunciation and epiphany of a new form of life and relationship between people.
In 1992 Mabunda began to paint and in 1995 participated in Ujamaa IV, workshop as assistant to the South African artist Andries Botha. Since 1997 he’s been working as a professional artist creating sculptures made of dismantled war weapons. His masks and thrones’ shapes recall traditional African culture and -despite the material or maybe
thanks to it- they are carrier of a strong and cathartic message against all wars. This Year Mabunda represents his country at the Venice Biennale in the Mozambique pavillon.