DEMOCRATIC INTUITION: COMRADES II
SEPTEMBER 8 - OCTOBER 22, 2016
524 WEST 24TH STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10011
Democratic Intuition: Comrades II
September 8 – October 22, 2016
Opening reception: Thursday, September 8th, from 6 – 8 PM at 524 West 24th Street.
Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions featuring new work by Meleko Mokgosi, his first solo presentation in New York City. “Comrades II” is featured at our 24th Street gallery while “Lerato” is on view at our 20th Street location. Both are distinct chapters from Democratic Intuition (2014-present), a body of work whose earlier iteration was exhibited at the ICA Boston in 2015. Coupling written text with imagery in a series of large-scale paintings, “Comrades II” continues Mokgosi’s examination of the historical, aesthetic and conceptual links between southern African liberation movements and communism, while “Lerato” is centered on the concepts of allegory and lerato, the Setswana word that roughly translates as “love.”
Democratic Intuition as a whole poses questions about how one can approach ideas of the democratic, founded on the simultaneous recognition of alterity and ipseity, in relation to the daily-lived experiences of the subjects that occupy southern Africa. The project focuses on the ways in which democracy is something that is inscribed within the individual from various institutions and how without access to the knowledge of how to use the state and its apparatuses, a subject can forgo claims to democracy. Together, these chapters seek to uncover the manner in which individuals invest intense emotional energy into others and objects and how these investments play out in relation to the democratic.
In “Comrades II”, Mokgosi pays close attention to the ways in which language was used to articulate the fight for freedom and questions how the idea of democracy continues to shape the current state of citizens’ experience and reciprocation of democracy. The exhibition’s title engages the term “comrade,” with its political resonance and implication of egalitarianism, supposedly cutting across gender, racial, ethnic, and class lines. In southern African liberation movements and politics, comrade was specifically used to refer to members of particular parties. In the context of this exhibition, Mokgosi employs the term to complicate its supposed equalizing force.
The texts accompanying the figurative paintings are referred to as dinaane (loosely translated in English as “stories”). The words are rendered in a range of legibility, echoing their origins in an ever-changing oral tradition; rather than the additive process of applying paint to canvas, the text panels have been created by bleaching the surface of the linen, resulting in a simultaneous presence through absence. No translations are offered in order to honor their specificity while at the same time hinder an appropriative reading from outside its linguistic context. Taken as a whole, the paintings in “Comrades II” underscore how words and images can reveal as much about the present as they do about the past.
Mokgosi received his BA from Williams College in 2007 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study program that same year. He then received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California Los Angeles in 2011, and was an Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2011-2012.
His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, recently at Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, Sweden and the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston both in 2015; other venues include the Botswana National Gallery, Gaborone, Botswana; The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Museum, Peekskill, NY; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center, Los Angeles, CA; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art, France. His work is included in public collections such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art for Rollins College, Winter Park, FL; and the Colby Museum of Art, Waterville, ME. In spring 2017, Mokgosi will have solo exhibitions at the Williams College Museum of Art, Rochester Contemporary Art Center and The University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery.
Mokgosi’s exhibition, Lerato, is concurrently on view at 513 West 20th Street. Upcoming exhibitions include Carrie Mae Weems, opening October 29th at both Chelsea locations. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at email@example.com.