Of Heroes and Heroines – A Slave Odyssey, 2018 – 2019
Of Heroes and Heroines – A Slave Odyssey, is a non-linear continuous and interwoven body of work created at the beginning of 2019 by the artist. It is made up of singular paintings which are all connected containing multiple extracts of larger themes and narratives which have then been split up and reconfigured, acting like a jigsaw puzzle. Rich with historical references from various countries in Africa and its diaspora, as well as contemporary cultural notes from his mixed heritage and home country, South Africa, Stockenstroom’s colourful and animated canvases, appear somewhat imposing and demand the viewers’ attention. The common thematic denominators stringing the work together is slavery, heroes and heroines. Stories of various little-known modern and historical subjects juxtaposed with personal commentary that in some cases draws parallels to both historical and modern-day western culture. In the series the artist employs both roughly drawn and graphic imagery to engage with the audience; depicting struggles both internal and external between the old and new.
Striking in saturation and violently raw brushstrokes the visuals are combined with pasted scraps of recreated historical archival documentation and symbolic text, pushing the viewer through an enigmatic frenzied visual universe which at the same time is somewhat familiar.
The use of the same vibrant language is a constant element narrating a different story within each painting. Visually, the works have layers of bold colours and as the texture thickens the velocity builds up. Colours are placed on top of each other, without being blended, as they come straight from the paint tube. On the surface, the content is presented to the viewer as edible snapshots and soundbites. Yet upon further investigation, a much deeper narrative appears. The closer one looks at the paintings the more the viewer finds to explore and question. Characters peer from dark hidden corners while words, symbols and barely familiar text appear beneath layers of bold primary colours.