Labyrinthine | The New Vanguard

Amogelang Maepa, Odette Graskie, Nomfundo Mkhize, Natalie de Morney, DuduBloom More, Grace Mokalapa, Mbalie Mthethwa and Gina van der Ploeg.
Curated by Els van Mourik
22 August – 12 September 2020

The LABYRINTHINE exhibition is showing the amazing work of multiple artists from South Africa. The group exhibition is part of The New Vanguard mentoring programme, an initiative developed by Berman Contemporary and curated by Els van Mourik.

While we all have to face the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic and we feel sometimes that our world has been turned upside down, Berman Contemporary likes to invite you to the exhibition and/or the 3D virtual tour in support of the artists and their emerging practices. Opening on the 22nd and 23rd of August 2020.


Curatorial statement by Els van Mourik

The LABYRINTHINE exhibition will display the awe-inspiring work of multiple artists from South Africa. The group exhibition is part of The New Vanguard mentoring programme for emerging artists – an initiative developed by Berman Contemporary and curated by Els van Mourik. The exhibition encompasses a series of artworks created using assorted forms of media provided to the artist. This serves to demonstrate that, in many cases, the actual materials used to create a work of art have intrinsic symbolic meaning, contributing to the metaphorical significance of the artwork. To create a work of art, the artist selects specific materials which contribute to the symbolism and meaning of the work created. For this purpose, the raw materials are mindfully selected before being transformed into art. Throughout this process of creation the artist maintains contact with their inner-world of ideas and emotions.

The wide variety of materials used to create works of art requires the mastering of varying techniques. Subtraction, whether applied to wood, ivory or stone, stands in contrast to other techniques that may involve modelling or building up with clay or wax, or blacksmithing, that consists of the manipulation of glowing-hot iron. This exhibition encompasses many of these techniques – working with clay, organic materials, wool, glass beads, inks, paper-making, etc. Sub-Saharan African cultures in particular share the belief that many of the attributes which are associated with particular materials are of significant import. Significantly, many believe that a number of these materials contain spiritual powers which could provide protection and prosperity when used properly. This diversity in the representational possibilities for each of the materials alludes to the different traditions that have been developed over a long period of time which can be modified, or reshaped, in a contemporary narrative in the 21st century.

LABYRINTHINE showcases imaginative use of materials and asks us to view our physical, material world through a different lens as well as the perspective of others. The impalpable worlds to which the physical, tangible works of art implicitly refer may seem impenetrable to some at first. Take your time. Meander and wander carefree through the works. Lose yourself. Experience surprising new connections and unfamiliar sights and allow yourself to be mystified by what you do not understand, or are certain about. You might seek inspiration from the artists’ rich, multifaceted stories; or perhaps gain new perspectives on local and worldwide truths? This could personally affect you and your community.

For the curation of this exhibition I focused on the various images of Africa that have existed in the back of my mind, factual knowledge about materiality and objects, and the whispered stories filled with human motives and emotions told by the artists during studio visits, all which form the raison d’être of this exhibition.

Els van Mourik, Amsterdam August 2020


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