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"Johannes Phokela: Compendium"
2007-10-23 until 2007-11-11
KZNSA - KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts
ZA South Africa
Rapidly regaining its reputation for attracting some of the hottest names in contemporary visual art, the KZNSA has pulled off something of a coup with Compendium, its forthcoming exhibition of Johannes Phokela. This is the first time that Durban will get to see the collected work of this internationally celebrated artist born in Soweto who now lives and works in London. Compendium, presented in association with Gallery Momo, demonstrates why Phokela is the hat-trick recipient of the John Moores painting prize, the BP National Gallery Portrait Award and the highly prestigious Decibel Artist‚s Award, and also one of the key artists at the Institute of International Visual Arts. His work is represented in major public collection, including the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian in Washington.
Compendium shows how Phokela‚s beautifully painted manipulations of iconic images by Old Masters such as Rubens, Van Dyck and others, weave a personal history into this historical canon. Characters of key protagonists are often altered from their Northern European settings, resulting in unsettling images that challenge Eurocentric narratives around contemporary and historical art. Undoubtedly Phokela‚s experience and subsequent move to the UK are intrinsically linked to his reinterpretation of the Golden Age. Although his interests lie in parallel histories of the Enlightenment and the African continent, his paintings are much about the violent and twisted history of the Dutch in Africa as they are the history of painting.
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