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New exhibition alert: “If not now, then when?” for BKHz

As most might agree, the art of collaboration is a master key… and you know what they say about master keys.

Over the years, “collaboration” has become a bit of a corporate buzzword. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s an empty cliché. On the contrary, the cultural side of African art is a perfect example of that. Today, we saw that at a new Group show, If not now, then when?, which opened on 03 December 2022 at BKHz in Johannesburg.

15 artists were given the opportunity to showcase their work at the art gallery that serves to amplify the talents of local South African art spaces as well as upcoming artists alongside established artists. Bkhz was founded in 2018 by Banele Khoza (28), at a time when he felt the urge to bring out change to his surrounding communities whilst inspiring artistic adventures in black South African youth.  

Often, people interpret art in their own way(s). The thought hasn’t left my mind, that there’s a universal standard of art being consumed and understood in different ways. When I first saw the works of this exhibition, a lot of pieces stood out for me. At the same time, I have a favourite piece which spoke to me to a degree that others could not. My neon shadow (2022) by Francesco Mbele, AKA Franadilla, is my favourite piece.

Immediately, once my eyes fell onto this work I sensed how it embodies the essence of screenprinting. The Swarovski rhinestone is a perfect metaphor for the ever-cycling trend of grills (seen on the muse Mmaphuthi Movundlela) – and everything that has precious stones in it that references Black culture. The art piece features a custom-made and gilded red bloody frame created by the artist.

With all its complexities, “Out of the Closet and Into the Streets” by Talia Ramkilawan challenges societal norms which dictate what people can and cannot do. What I gathered through the visual imagery are themes of interracial and generational acceptance, acknowledged boundaries and sex positivity. The material fabric is made of wool and cloth on hessian, that symbolises different ethnicities and different beliefs according to the upbringing. This work is a continuation into the South African artist’s journey into her own specific experience with South Asian identity, culture, and trauma.

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