Mozam­bi­can makes art out of weapons

CityPress - - News - ADAM LEVINE news@city­press.co.za See Mabunda’s work at the FNB Art Fair from Au­gust 22-24 at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. Ad­mis­sion is R50 on Fri­day, R100 on Satur­day/Sun­day and R200 for a three-day pass

One of the artists ar­riv­ing in Jo­han­nes­burg for a trio of ma­jor art events next week will be car­ry­ing weapons.

But Gonçalo Mabunda is not here to be vi­o­lent – the weapons have been turned into art. The young Mozam­bi­can, who re­cently sold a sculp­ture for about R500 000, is one of the artists who will be ex­hibit­ing at the FNB Joburg Art Fair.

Art Week Joburg and Joburg Fringe will also kick off this week.

More than a decade ago, the Catholic coun­cil of Mozam­bique launched an ini­tia­tive to heal the coun­try af­ter its dev­as­tat­ing civil war.

Mabunda set to work ex­plor­ing the paci­fist and creative catharses of bul­let shells, rogue hand grenades and chunky mis­sile cases.

Any Mozam­bi­can of Mabunda’s gen­er­a­tion – he was born in 1975 – is un­likely to have es­caped the pain­fully per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of war.

This made the project less of a themed ex­er­cise in heavy metal than an op­por­tu­nity to take live mu­ni­tions from the coun­try’s streets and put them into galleries.

From the out­set, Mabunda’s work ref­er­enced the lay­ered cul­tures of his her­itage – the heavy baroque carv­ing of Por­tuguese ships or thrones, the overblown splen­dour of Catholi­cism and its at­ten­dant iconog­ra­phy.

These were coun­tered with a nod – al­beit half-cocked – to Africa’s tribal hi­er­ar­chies.

The whimsy of his pieces is shad­owed by its re­al­ity. Mabunda has been a ca­su­alty of his own art and re­tains lit­tle vi­sion in his left eye. His as­sis­tants have also been in­jured by the ma­te­ri­als they col­lect.

Gonçalo Mabunda

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