Sikhuselo Sembumbulu, 2012
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 96" x 632"
Installation View, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Terra Nullius, 2012
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 84" x 444"
Installation view, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
Terra Pericolosa, 2013
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 84"x96", 108"x132", 168"x84", 108"x132", 84"x96"
Installation view, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
Ruse of Disavowal, 2013
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 108"x132", 96"x132", 96"x180", 108"x180", 108"x132", 96"x132", 108"x132"
Installation view, Lyon Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyon, France
Modern Art: The Root of African Savages, 2013
Inkjet and charcoal on linen, 10 panels, 36" x 24" each
Full Belly, 2011
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 72”x90”, 72”x108”, 84”x120”, 96”x84”
Satisfaction of Sensation, 2011
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 96”x96”, 72”x90”, 108”x72”, 96”x144”
Good Boy, 2011
Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 96”x144”, 96”x144"
Inkjet and charcoal on canvas, 8 panels, 34”x40” each
Installation view, Vox Populi, Philadelphia
Meleko Mokgosi (b. Francistown, Botswana) is an artist who works within an interdisciplinary framework to create large-scale project-based installations. By working with figurative (history) painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, his practice interrogates the specificity of regionalism in order to address questions of nationhood, colonial and anti- colonial sentiments, and the perception of historicized events. Being educated mostly in Botswana, Mokgosi came to the United States in 2003 to pursue tertiary education in the Arts. Following his scholarship at Williams College, MA and the Slade School of Fine Arts, he attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in 2007. Thereafter, he studied under the mentorship of Mary Kelly at the UCLA Interdisciplinary Studio Practice program. He lives and works between the US and Botswana.
Meleko Mokgosi uses painting to interrogate the very concerns that inform its death drive: the limits of representation, the politics of abstraction, and the mode of viewing enabled by rectangular canvases on a gallery wall. The artist’s technical acuity delivers a kind of critical visuality, asking viewers to draw out affinities between experiencing and interpreting. Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu (2012) addresses the question of nationalism in relation to globalization and resistance. The work meditates on sikhuselo sembumbulu, a Xhosa term meaning “bulletproof.” This is a reference to the Xhosa cattle killings of 1856–57, which were intended to drive away colonial powers and simultaneously resurrect ancestors. The series of works frames the historic event and considers a legacy of resistance that continues today—namely, the persistent drive to become bulletproof. At the same time this history is represented as only partially available to viewers, suggesting the difficulty of cultural translation.
- Malik Gaines