Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt

Curated Anelisa Mangcu and Jana Terblanche 

Sphephelo Mnguni, Neighbourhood Watch, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 93cm x 103cm

Exhibition synopsis 

For much of recorded art history, black people have been projected onto fanciful Utopic or  Dystopic dreamscapes, that underscore the extremities of their identities. Some of these  depictions have been useful to honour the past and to imagine spaces that are ruled by a  different, fairer set of relations. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt flips the  proverbial script and engages artists who create moments of freedom and upliftment. Rest,  relaxation, leisure, intimacy, and domesticity are at the forefront of these pictorial  conversations.  


Curated by Anelisa Mangcu and Jana Terblanche, this exhibition aims to bring diverse voices  into conversation with each other without attempting to be wholly exhaustive. Artistic  dialogues differ just as human experiences do, but a common thread of inventing and  reinterpreting runs through the heart of the black portraiture movement. The title is taken  from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1969 science fiction infused anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five where  it is presented as an epitaph for the lead character. While on its face, it reads as unreservedly  optimistic, the extremity of the language points to its irony and impossibility. This phrase in  the context of this exhibition accentuates the complexity and duality of black identity in  modern culture; at once a site for trauma and unfettered joy. 

The interest in portraiture is built on a long history of black artists writing their experiences  into the historical canon through their art. This movement does not orient itself on  established European paradigms but rather works to bring the barley perceivable into  visibility, to canonise and to create a space of resonance for black experiences. The curators  aim to draw connections between the historical and the contemporary, whilst holding space  for a polyphony of ideas and positions. The agency of the African story is returned to African  makers. This exhibition celebrates the cultural differences of a multifaceted continent, but  also looks for moments of camaraderie and connection. Everything was beautiful and  nothing hurt aims to be an important homecoming of ideas to the continent and reclamation  of African cultural identity.

Participating Artists 

Atanda Quadri Adebayo (b. 1999) @debayoatanda (Nigeria) 
Damilola Adeniyi (b. 1989) @iammrcreative (Nigeria) 
Adegboyega Adesina (b. 1998) @adegboyegaadesina_ (Nigeria) 
Patrick Bongoy (b. 1980) @patrickbongoy (Democratic Republic of Congo/South Africa)
Ikeorah Chisom Chi-FADA (b. 2000) @chi_fada (Nigeria)
Feni Chulumanco (b. 1994) @fenichulumanco (South Africa)
Lwando Dlamini (b. 1992) @dlaminilwando (South Africa)
Mongezi Gum (b. 1970) @mongezigum (South Africa)
Talut Kareem (b. 1994) @talut.kareem (Nigeria)
Zemba Luzamba (b. 1973) @lutandaluzamba (Democratic Republic of Congo/South Africa)
Craig Cameron-Mackintosh (b.1987) @craigcameron_mackintosh (South Africa)
Kimathi Mafafo (b.1984) @kimathimafafo (South Africa)
Muofhe Manavhela (b. 2000) @muofhemanavhela (South Africa)
Qhamanande Maswana (b.1991) @qhamanandemaswana (South Africa)
Sphephelo Mnguni (b. 1993) @sphephelo_mnguni (South Africa)
Buqaqawuli Thamani Nobakada (b. 2000) @nda.lo (South Africa)
Mookho Ntho (b. 1995) @okhi__ (Lesotho)
Kelechi Nwaneri (b. 1994) @kaecyart (Nigeria)
Seth Pimentel (b. 1995) @african_ginger (South Africa)
Navel Seakamela (b. 1991) @naveldnav (South Africa)
Bara Sketchbook (b. 1993) @barasketchbook (Nigeria)
Tafadzwa Tega (b. 1985) @tega.tafadzwa (Zimbabwe/South Africa)
Katlego Tlabela (b. 1993) @katlegotlabela (South Africa)
Lulama Wolf (b. 1993) @lulamawolf (South Africa)

About the Curators

Anelisa Mangcu is a curator and interdisciplinary art practitioner based in Cape Town. Mangcu is the co-founder of The Victory of the Word, an organisation that works on funding and investment strategies to stimulate and preserve art entities such as Lovedale Press. Mangcu has curated booths for FNB At Joburg, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, 1-54 New York and Latitudes Art Fair. Mangcu is also the founder of Under The Aegis, which offers curatorial and art advisory services, and facilitates the relationship between artists, collectors and institutional collections from the African continent and the diaspora. Mangcu obtained an Honours in Curatorship from the Centre for Curating the Archive at Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University  of Cape Town.

Jana Terblanche is a Cape Town-based curator with an interest in intersectional feminism and decolonial theory. Terblanche has curated booths for FNB Art Joburg, Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Also Known As Africa Contemporary Art Fair, 1-54 London and for prestigious private collections. She is interested in forging connections between art partitioners on the African continent and in building relationships between artists and art institutions. She recently served as co-curator of a group exhibition titled Unusual Suspects at the Africa Artists’ Foundation in Lagos, and Terblanche obtained an Honours in Fine Art from Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town.

Exhibition details 

Exhibition title: Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt 

Exhibition dates: 28 October – 13 November 2021 

Exhibition venue: First Floor, Keyes Art Mile Part of FNB Art Joburg’s official Open City Programme.

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