ARP – art residency project – ZWELETHU MACHEPHA, Colonial Ghosts at CENTRO DI SARRO ROME

Colonial Ghosts at the Centro Di Sarro brings together the different mediums of drawing, painting and printmaking of the young South African artist Zwelethu Machepha. Machepha capturing  enthusiastically in both figurative and abstracted the intrinsic and intuitive histories and languages of a world around him. A pixilated and redefined language that is both simultaneously a commentary on the digitalized world around us but equally meticulous colors and patterns that could equate with his cultural heritage.

Most recent prints include the subtler elements of pure fluorescent white drawings on paper that contrasts with the larger scale multi-paneled monochrome and colorful paper works. These all explain the process of experimentation the artist works through. Originally based on literal renderings of his human subjects  (an example has been included in this exhibition as well), the essence of this humanity permeates through the exhibition. But as the artist moves forward in time the visual references are pared down to their abstracted ‘essence’. Responding to the vibrant urban spaces around him as one moves from room to room one can feel the presence of a human beings, as they gradually lose recognizable forms. Machepha explains he is trying to capture his identity  and his world as the global environment around us continues to accelerate to such a degree we lose all grounding and roots with what we know. The audience is able to experience this fractured nature in the drawings depending on how close you are to them. From across the room one can see the silhouettes of the forms and bodies, whilst up very close the identities and shapes lose all definition and become only intense lines and patterns.

Machepha includes near the end of the exhibition a small series of brand new oil paint etchings realized in Rome with the assistance of Alessandro Fornaci at Stamperia del Tevere. Recaptured here the nuisances of humanity but without the recognizable human form. This minimal narrative by Machepha touches upon a dissolving of identities and loss of figuration now is landscaped in Roman languages that impressed upon the artist in his residency. (Emma Van Der Merwe – Everard Read/Circa Gallery Cape Town)

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