'Myths of Harare'
Wycliffe Mundopa at Commune.1
Commune.1 is pleased to present an exhibition of large-scale oil paintings by Zimbabwean painter Wycliffe Mundopa.
Combining personal iconography and allegorical imagery with harsh and gritty references to social reality, Mundopa’s paintings confront the issues facing marginalised groups in Harare’s underprivileged neighborhoods, specifically the plight of woman and children. He transforms the drab fruit carts and dusty streets of Mbare, Harare’s most populous and high-density area, into a sardonic and contorted fantasyland of vice and excess.
Where others may turn to realism to depict such harsh realities, Mundopa endeavors to create a new mythologised language for urban Zimbabwe and its fluctuating moral codes. Here we are seduced by the pageantry of emotionally charged tableaus and the characters they entertain: powerful fish and frog motifs mutate into nurses and prostitutes that are clad in satin stockings and African java prints. These aliases function as ancestral voices calling out to remember the value of each human life, before being drowned out by the overarching urge to succeed at all costs. In this way, his work presents an opportunity to see how painfully and vibrantly womens’ lives -whether they are the mother, prostitute, caregiver, breadwinner, the successful or the poor- reflect the conflicts of political agendas, tradition and shifts within contemporary life in Zimbabwe.
19 February - 26 March
‘In the end, we're all to blame’
Commune.1 presents ‘In the end, we're all to blame’, an exhibition of new paintings by Elize Vossgatter and a collaboration with Berlin-based performance artist Hilla Steinert.
Following an ongoing interrogation of the notions of the self and its relation to body politics, Vossgatter turns to examine different instances of collectives, groups, gatherings or crowds, through the metaphors of the stage and the staged. These include theatre performances, family snap-shots, school ceremonial photographs and other kinds of gatherings, sourced from social media and from the artists’ personal archive. Where her previously exhibited work considered the individuals’ unnatural relationship to the natural environment due to the superficial accumulations of persona, there is now a consideration of the psychology of the collective and of the pressures it places on the idea of individuality or selfhood. These observations are contextualized by the world that portraits exist in today: proliferating in impersonal digital spaces, easily accessed and obsessively ‘profile’ managed.
With these as starting points, the artist begins to undermine the authority of the stage and the idea of a cohesive performance. This is done by subverting the static audience-actor / photographer-subject relationship, and instead turning the viewer into a participant who is no longer detached and passive. The characters intend to disarm, poised in an outward gaze, yet also appear slippery and ghostly much like the oil and neon they are painted in. Vossgatter’s restless and demanding relationship with her medium, the irreverent use of any fluid material at hand in combination with traditional oil paints, renders surfaces that thin, congeal or glitter. It is in the handling of the paint and its formalities that Vossgatter speaks powerfully to the crises of coping with day-to-day living. At times figures on the verge of becoming identities in themselves, seem to suddenly wither or float away. Spaces that are meant to contain groups are undermined by a flurry of pure painterly marks that corrode depth. As we meet the gaze of anonymous figures, looking out from obliterated surroundings, we are reminded of an inner conflict between our own voice and the voice of others.