Meleko Mokgosi: Your Trip to Africa

Meleko Mokgosi: Your Trip to Africa

Feb 27 - May 30, 2020

Meleko Mokgosi (b. 1981, Francistown, Botswana; lives in New York) wields the traditions of Western European painting to deliver sharp political critiques relating to the postcolonial condition. Combining a high degree of painterly skill with a poetic, open-ended semiotic approach and a penchant for deep archival research, the artist shines light on some of the complex socioeconomic dynamics that animate contemporary southern Africa. Mokgosi typically employs hyperrealistic figurative imagery on a large scale, incorporating mysterious, unidentified personages loosely linked to one another in implied storylines, sometimes spanning multiple timeframes within the same composition. Mokgosi’s work references murals and cinema as well as the conventional European artistic genre known as history painting. Associated primarily with the Neoclassical period of the 18th and 19th centuries, history paintings depict events drawn from history or mythology in ways that valorize contemporaneous political figures and forces. Whereas traditional history paintings feature lofty subjects—military battles or climactic scenes drawn from ancient legends—Mokgosi elevates everyday, anonymous persons and common objects, setting them against mundane domestic contexts while inserting references that establish an array of subtle yet powerful suggestive effects.

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