In recognition of Black History Month, In My Body exhibits a selection of figurative artworks that seek to dismantle conventions of representation. In response to a visual history in which Black figures and their narratives are pushed into the shadows or excluded completely, these visually arresting artworks, with their vibrant hues, powerful use of line and sense of physicality, bring them to the fore (click here to view the exhibition on Artsy).
In My Body engages with topics related to representation and identity, specifically through the framework of portraiture. As such, the exhibition strives to present narratives that have typically been discounted from the mainstream of visual representation. These artworks reframe art historical representations of Blackness, which are almost exclusively reductive, consigning Black figures to intensely constrained and circumscribed types, tropes or roles.
Wonder Buhle Mbambo, Umthobisi, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 100 cm x 100 cm
In this vein, the images presented in In My Body seek to convey that the Black figure does not exist within a monolith but is vastly nuanced and multi-dimensional. With these pieces, this group of artists endeavours to amplify and unveil the many facets of Black existence by drawing attention to those figures that, throughout the history of art, would have been relegated to the background or censored altogether. History has continually forced Black figures into states of guarded wariness, but these portraits present images of autonomous and assured individuals in states of repose, ease, strength and independence. The exhibition features the work of multiple talented artists, including Zandile Tshabalala, Collins Obijiaku, Cydne Jasmin Coleby, Wonder Buhle Mbambo and more.
We invite you to scroll down to watch Zandile Tshabalala talk more about her artwork and practice.