BY NYADZOMBE NYAMPENZA
SOUTH AFRICAN visual artist Pebofatso Mokoena brings an exciting body of work to First Floor Gallery Harare through his solo exhibition titled Neoclassical Taste Matrix that sounds deceptively like an event for art history buffs.
The artwork has didactic elements for those who care for it or depend on it, but enjoying the work does not depend on intellectual rigour.
Looking crisp and timeless, the acrylic on canvas series is defined by dark backgrounds with a depth like the abyss.
Explosions of color, line, and shapes feel like the viewer is on an intergalactic flight.
As if to avoid being snared, Mokoena’s gestures do not linger at any part of the canvas. Recognisable figures and symbols in the abstract works look promising, but yield no convincing clues.
The viewer begins to experience the work when they subconsciously abandon their expectations.
Mokoena subverts the use of titles, he professes that they are not there as a crutch to aid meaning.
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Remarkably, he paints the titles on top of the canvas. They become the material substance of the composition.
One piece is titled Waves, which can suggest energy, or motion, in relation to the content the title is a deliberately constructed dead end.
Texture, line, and hue are all there is to contemplate. Different layers and shades of paint make the abstract piece look like a landscape.
A swipe of purple in the foreground creates a sense of foreboding. Horizontal swaths of green look like beams supporting the entrance to a dim tunnel.
An inviting glow at the center beacons like fire at the back of a cave. The unimposing piece by Mokoena is a portal into the virtual realm.
It requires only silence and solitude. The confusing text is a convenient distraction and diversion for the querying ego.
Beyond the ceaseless chatter of mind, the work appeals directly to the heart.
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