Meschac Gaba: Tropical Garden
From May 12 – June 29, 2018, Stevenson Gallery will present Tropical Garden, an exhibition of paintings by celebrated artist Meschac Gaba. It is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Johannesburg.
Returning to painting for the first time since the 1990s, Gaba presents a series of new works on canvas, set among potted palms installed within the gallery. Inspired by time spent in the garden surrounding his house in the city of Cotonou in Benin, Gaba’s paintings reveal the negative shapes of leaves taken from his various plants.
With this spatial intervention, Meschac Gaba joins a lineage of artists that includes Helio Oiticica and Marcel Broodthaers, who have similarly incorporated natural life into their practice as signifiers of non-human creative force, and as expressions of the struggle for power of culture over nature. As with these historical precedents, Gaba creates a space where reflection and playfulness become one, a space to contemplate and question our own assumptions of human, artistic or political control.
Alongside the paintings Gaba presents Citoyen d’Afrique, a new large-scale piece that combines the national flags of the 55 member countries of the African Union. The motif of the flag has been used by Gaba throughout his practice as a means of critiquing globalisation and national solidarity while suggesting a poetic resolution of these tensions.
Meschac Gaba will participate in the 13th Dakar Biennale which opens on May 2, 2018.
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