From July 19 to Sept 2, 2018, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery will present Common Place, a joint exhibition featuring recent works by Brazilian painter Sergio Lucena and South African pluridisciplinary artist Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi. It begins with a gaze of an inescapable faith— solitude. The artist succumbs to the emptiness of the matter despite a perpetual struggle to fill a void. The image as a language questions the cognitive properties of representations whether it depicts an abstract or figurative form.
Common Place translates an intercepted vision of an unspeakable truth. The divergence surfaces in the perception that abstraction is assertive and figurations narrative. And yet, the experience of juxtaposing the practices of the two artists emanates a subjective language, the reverence of a common place where individuals correlate. An inner place confined in an infinite and intimate space. The perpetual search of plenitude replaces an experimented reality that both artists denounce or reject. Common Place examines the rapport between individual and collective manifestations.
In the work of South African artist, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, the questions of collective freedom are constructed through the sacrifice of private lives for the common good. The ‘Heroes’ series, an ongoing inquiry into the subjective nature of the idea of a “hero”, creates a diverse, personal ‘pantheon’ that includes members of her family, nameless faces from marginalized histories, as well as famous figures not commonly viewed as heroes, she provokes viewers into reevaluating their relationship with iconic figures and the ideologies they prop up. Facing outward the Hero is connected to universal values and the betterment of individuals. The Hero recalls the desire to make some gesture towards expanding our very myopic historical narratives. ‘I wanted to complicate the idea of what a hero is, and I started thinking of people who would subvert the prevailing idea — a very patriarchal, revisionist, exclusive ideal of “the hero” — and allow for a more inclusive definition, one that would point to the complexities of what it means to be a person’ states Niki Nkosi. That introspective search is inherent in Lucena’s quasi-monochromatic paintings, and he believed the portraits of Niki Nkosi are facing his inner world “as a way to find significance to deal with the reality.”
Similarly, the South African artist takes these characters out of time and place and set them side by side in a timeless, contextless realm. The flat, single-colour background is one of the ways (among several) that she aspires to achieve this flattening of time and space. According to Sergio Lucena, the opposition in the forms reveals a dynamic synergy. A painting which is dealing with the notion of heroism invokes an attempted reach to the Anima, a collective soul known as the World Soul. In his abstract art, Lucena offers possibilities of a cosmic reunion and entry to a parallel world. One could imagine that the protagonist figured in Niki Nkosi’s paintings seem to stare at Lucena’s abstract landscapes as the mirror of their consciousness.
March 18, 2019