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SMAC Gallery is proud to present Of the seeking or the finding, a solo exhibition of new work by Mongezi Ncaphayi.

We have come a long way since the days when abstraction was a sore thumb in the South African art landscape and the stakes were higher for black artists on whom the burden of responsibility for more representational art was imposed. In our contemporary moment, we can now witness a diversity of styles and approaches to art in ways that aren’t only reflective of our time and place, but also indicative of a relief from any kind of superego imposition on what is appropriate, and what is not. Abstract art has been one of the vehicles with which artists have used their rights to refuse certain forms of co-optations, representation, and identity. While a form of social commentary through a refusal, it must be said that this [refusal] didn’t at all mean that these artists weren’t concerned or critical about the state of the world.

Today, new forms of representational expectations are enforced, and artists from marginalized societies are urged to once more stage their marginality and exclusion by representing, performing and speaking to their backgrounds. To opt to disengage, retreat or to flee can be a form of expressing valor, for those (as Sun Ra would say):

“who wish to be attuned/

To the vibrations of the outer Cosmic Worlds,”

Artists like Mongezi Ncaphayi insist on speaking to the world, but not necessarily in the languages and forms that are convenient to our tastes and expectations. They tap into the recesses of their souls, to the nothingness of the cosmos, to determine their ways.

The language of abstraction in Ncaphayi’s work is a journey that vacillates between the real and the ethereal. Its exploratory thrust investigates the realness of the artistic materials at its disposal; with materials that are conventional but subjected to a process that never guarantees predictable outcomes. Left to chance, this unknowable fate opens the paper or canvas to be more than a substrate but also a site of exploration; a map from which we seek and discover the unknown via the chitchat of the paint, the ink scissors, brush, the cut-offs, and the water. Ncaphayi’s paintings, largely minimalist, vacillate between collages and painting using the wet-on-wet technique. Wet-on-wet refers to a procedure based on water based pigmentations, whereby a watery pigment is applied on top of another in a semi controlled way, causing a complex and rhythmic orchestra of painterly effects. These images tend to resemble a topographic layout, a blurred form of mapping out. Here the art object becomes a cartographic sign in which we trace the labyrinth of self-developed shades, rendered elegantly and seemingly effortlessly. This is something Ncaphayi extends on in the current exhibition.

Of the seeking or the finding continues on this trajectory into the abstract and incorporeal worlds, embracing serendipity and improvisation. Ncaphayi has the unexpected relentlessness of a seeker. The title of the current exhibition is pulled out of a poem by African American poet and writer, Langston Hughes called Old Walt. In the two stanza piece Hughes employs the rhythmic and repetitive language that loops, rocks and sways back and forth.

Old Walt Whitman

Went finding and seeking,

Finding less than sought

Seeking more than found,

Every detail minding

Of the seeking or the finding.

The loneliness that characterizes Old Walt’s journey, the movement that portrays his endless pursuit and impossible satiation, inspecting every crevice “pleasured equally/ in seeking as in finding,” is an apt description of Ncaphayi’s process. The solitude, the movement and pleasure that pervades’ Hughes’ poem is analogous to Ncaphayi’s own satisfaction in the enriching procedure of searching and spontaneity. This is “poetry coming asblues and the blues coming as poetry” as Jayne Cortez once said. Music haunts, which is to say, it hones in on and harnesses Ncaphayi’s art. The current works are somewhat musical, not only because they follow a kind of theatrics of the muse or musing, but because they also entail a great deal of “play.” As a saxophonist himself, Ncaphayi somewhat employs the notion of play in the very development of the pieces. This sense of play also affects the way our eyes receive the subtle and runny palette, making the artworks lighter and inviting to the eye. The shapes, lines, dots, and other interrupting but subtle features of these beautiful images extend this sense of play, without being frivolous or necessarily decorative.

This is a body of work that asks of us to think about forms of embodying freedom, as elusive, fantastical and tenuous as that might be. It’s a collection that explores issues of time travel, spatiality (literally and imaginatively), beauty and play. Mongezi Ncaphayi’s Of the seeking or the finding concerns itself with issues of spiritual freedoms, material exploration, and virtues of human exploratory practices.

– Athi Mongezeleli Joja

SMAC Gallery is proud to present Of the seeking or the finding, a solo exhibition of new work by Mongezi Ncaphayi. We have come a long way since the days when abstraction was a sore thumb in the South African art landscape and the stakes were higher for black artists on whom the burden of responsibility for more representational art was imposed. In our contemporary moment, we can now witness a diversity of styles and approaches to art in ways that

Boon for Print Collectors as The Artists’ Press Limited Edition Print Pop Up heads for Keyes Art Mile This April sees the launch of new series of Limited Edition Print Pop Up Shops at Keyes Art Miles, beginning with a superb selection of works from the acclaimed The Artists' Press opening on April 4th. Building off the success of previous one-day Limited Edition Print Pop Ups that have taken place in Johannesburg over the past 6 years, the new venue at Keyes

Presented by True Design in partnership with Strauss & Co The Atrium, Trumpet Building, Keyes Art Mile 13 March - end April 2019 Seldom does the public have the opportunity to explore and appreciate a curated display of the works of a single artist from a seminal private collection. Keyes Art Mile is hosting a comprehensive exhibition of the work of Edoardo Villa (1915–2011), one of South Africa’s most enduringly popular sculptors. The exhibition, Vertical Presence: The Sculpture of Edoardo Villa, facilitates the Villa

The Keyes Pantry Market kicks off the year with a celebration of healthy, conscious living Saturday 26 January 2019 | 9am - 2pm A new year comes with new resolutions, and Rosebank’s favourite neighbourhood market is here to help you stick to yours. On Saturday 26 January, the beloved Keyes Art Mile will be home to a host of artisanal food producers who will set up shop, bringing their excellent, locally and responsibly produced goods to the Keyes Art Mile. Healthy Living In a

This last First Thursday at Keyes for 2018 is brimming with art! Join us for the opening of our 'Summer 2018 Exhibition' & the 'Virtual Spaces experience at TMRW Gallery. SUMMER 2018 EXHIBITION: While others wind down, Keyes Art Mile gears up to present SUMMER 2018, a group exhibition of limited editioned works by emerging artists presented in partnership with Offset Culture, Koooooos + Lemon. This show marks the closing of a dynamic year of arts programming at Keyes Art Mile. Featuring Palindroom: Koooooos +

Art & Design Saturday presents FUBA: Preserving a Legacy The November edition of Art&Design Saturday at Keyes Art Mile is proud to partner with the Friends of Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) to commemorate the 40th anniversary of FUBA, the Federated Union of Black Artists. Taking place on November 17th, the exhibition of selected artworks, artifacts and documents is a celebration of the movement’s extraordinary legacy—in particular its influence on the development of late 20th Century South African art, including the Resistance Art movement during apartheid. Importantly,

The Keyes Pantry Market wraps up the year with a festive bash - Saturday 24 November 2018 - 9am - 2pm Stand a chance to win a Marble voucher by attending our free Pantry Talk with food-selfie queen Christy Strever at 10:30 in the Mesh Club Cinema this Saturday!  Rosebank’s newest neighbourhood market, where shoppers flock on the last Saturday of every month for their fix of responsible, local and artisanal food, is stepping it up a notch for its final edition of

Talking Art at Keyes in partnership with Nando’s presents: Afrofuturism - real or abstract, it’s only the beginning with Bongani Madondo, Neo Mashigo and Lebo Rasethaba in conversation BOOK YOUR TICKET HERE The fourth in the Talking Art at Keyes series will see cultural theorist, art curator and journalist Bongani Madondo in conversation with M&C Saatchi CCO, Neo Mashigo, and award-winning filmmaker, Lebo Rasethaba. Taking place on Wednesday, 7 November, the discussion is an interrogation of Afrofuturism and its multiple waves of influence on contemporary

CUBA HITS JOZI FOR 1ST THURSDAY Little Havana Take-Over on Keyes Art Mile Dance, eat and drink just like they do in Cuba as the spirit of Cuba hits Jozi this 1st Thursday when Little Havana takes over Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank in Johannesburg on First Thursday (1st November). The event, hosted by Havana Club 7 Rum shares an evening of Cuban culture and customs and everyone is invited. Little Havana will pop-up on Keyes Avenue for one night only, where Havana Club rum,

The Keyes Pantry Market gets the Slow Food stamp of approval Since launching in March 2018, Keyes Art Mile’s monthly Pantry Market has become a firm favourite among Joburg’s foodie community, thanks to its curated selection of high-quality local food products. Conscious consumers can now browse the market with the added confidence that they’re making responsible food choices, as The Pantry has been nominated a certified Slow Food Market. The Slow Food Movement envisions a world in which all people can access