CityPress - - The Good Guide -

black com­rades al­lowed space in the broader eco­nomic ma­chine. Com­rades II and III op­er­ate in the same way, but Com­rades V takes a de­par­ture in its por­trayal of a seem­ingly in­no­cent, idyl­lic town­ship scene. What ap­pre­hends the viewer in this paint­ing is the sheer idle­ness of the fig­ures in it – the two men in con­ver­sa­tion, the el­derly woman at the win­dow and a mus­cled young man at the door. The first four Com­rades ex­plore ques­tions sur­round­ing who has ac­cess to education, as much as whose education is per­ceived as su­pe­rior and how th­ese ideas in­form how a post-in­de­pen­dence African so­ci­ety shapes it­self. Com­rades V has porce­lain dogs set in front of its cool blue back­ground. Th­ese were or­na­ments com­mon in most black house­holds in the late 80s and early 90s. The dogs oc­cu­pied a sa­cred place in my grand­mother’s house. They were beau­ti­ful and frag­ile, and al­ways seemed to stand guard.

Jux­ta­pos­ing the im­age with that of the idyl­lic scene, one gets a sense of some­thing worn out, tired and easy to break, as though the sinewy man at the door is an anal­ogy of the porce­lain dogs, and thus a vex­ing metaphor of the value of black life even in the demo­cratic mo­ment.

It is in the pro­saic that Mok­gosi finds the most in­sight into the anx­i­ety and ten­sion of so­ci­ety. And per­haps it is in the or­di­nary scenes of our lives that power, at its most vi­o­lent, fes­ters and finds re­lief. In th­ese paint­ings, so­cial de­spair is cloaked with light, lead­ing one to ask whether what one as­pires to as “nor­mal” is ac­tu­ally not the com­plete in­verse. The ex­hi­bi­tion runs at Steven­son Cape

Town un­til Fe­bru­ary 27

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