Sthenjwa Luthuli - Imbewu Yokhokho (The Seed Of Our Ancestors): Accra, Gallery III

24 Sep - 20 Oct 2022

Gallery 1957 is proud to announce the first solo exhibition in Accra, Ghana of Sthenjwa Luthuli (b. 1991, South Africa) featuring a new body of work. 

In this grand exhibition Sthenjwa Luthuli interrogates time and its role in shaping his cosmos, artistic practice and visual narratives. He has produced a series of paintings in his signature style, sculpted in relief form on board. If there is one noun that captures Luthuli's technique, it is: recursiveness. The most apt metaphor that captures his practice is the image of the metronome ticking away nicely synchronised to the artist's tonal calibration. The recurring theme of synchronised visuals of figures in stillmotion of Luthuli's suspended personages floating freely in space and etched onto hardboard plates evokes a sense of freedom. It is perhaps testament to a mind that works within a patient recursiveness that interrogates and gnaws at his subject matter until it is resolved.

Luthuli's suspended personages are an active retrieval of memories of these ancestors narrated through his grandmother and aunts throughout his childhood. The erasure and destruction of family archives and photographs through the violence of South Africa's brutal colonial history are resurrected through a reversal of the iconoclasm of the desolation of his personal family archives. This body of work, Imbewu Yokhokho (The Seed of our Ancestors), is a referential revival, restitution if you will, of memories that explore the relationship with oral histories of the unknown through his innate need to inscribe physical marks and create symbols which transcend time. There is figuration but not faithful portraiture, a rhythmic confluence of forms dotted with lines that embrace figures to resurrect
ancestors suppressed through time. The absence of faces is a deliberate effort to avoid the anachronism in translating oral histories of ancestors through the pollution of the superfluity of contemporary images we consume today.
Luthuli's work draws focus to the interdependence between masks, artefacts, objects, personages and their position in archiving histories stashed in oral literature. It achieves all this without commonplace representation of contaminated ideas of anatomical concepts around 'beauty', form and aesthetes. There is a marked awareness and refusal of images of human bodies as offered by transitioning contemporary trends, market forces, recent and trending cultural identities toward a fresher visualisation around liberated bodies that do not need to conform.
Luthuli is grateful to be existing at a time that is transitioning away from post dystopia toward a new reality. For Luthuli, 'now is the time' as we emerge into a new timeline for humanity.

Extract from text by Azu Nwagbogu

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