Four Rehearsals in the Yellow Bile
A Mikhael Subotzky and The Brother Moves On collaboration at the Maitland Institute
Directed by: Siyabonga Mthembu
Featuring: Mikhael Subotzky, Thantaswa May, Gontse Makhene
Music by: Zelizwe Mthembu
This performance will take place in four parts, each commencing at:
5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm on 14 September 2017
For the past six years, Mikhael Subotzky has been systematically pulling images apart in an attempt to “get inside” them and understand their representational function. Working with found images as well as his own photographs, these have been radically re-contextualised, smashed, split in half, and reconstituted into forms that Subotzky sees as being a more honest reflection of these images than their original form.
At Maitland Institute, Subotzky continues this process, working for the first time with paint and ink on canvas, as well as in collaborative performance with The Brother Moves On. These new formal constituents are wielded around Subotzky’s personal iconography - images that he has both found and made that resonate with his memories and experiences, as well as certain texts foundational to his understanding of the world.
The collaborative performance with The Brother Moves On, titled Four Rehearsals in the Yellow Bile, will take place within the exhibition on the opening night (14 September). It too will “pull apart” the underlying texts and images of Subotzky’s works, while also introducing the narratives and imagery of performance and collaboration synonymous with The Brother Moves On. Four Rehearsals in the Yellow Bile features Thantaswa May as our female protagonist stuck in the Bile, under the watchful eye of our current reality. Her story, an ode to Nina Simone's Four Women and the Marikana widows amongst others, will be sung in counterpoint and conflict with TS Eliot’s Four Quartets (read by Subotzky) and accompanied by a percussive and musical score created by Zelizwe Mthembu.
This “work in progress” exhibition thus introduces a new stream in Subotzky’s work, a cross-medium attempt to illustrate and understand T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets. Drawing on a long history of artists’ “illustration” of classic texts - Rauschenberg’s Thirty-Four Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno and Robert Crumb’s Holy Bible for example - Subotzky seeks to get inside a text that has been fundamental to his aesthetic and philosophical understanding of the world. It is a project that he estimates he will be preoccupied with for many years to come.Event Link
Saturday 12 August, 11am – 1pm
The culmination of Open Form/ Open StudioEvent Link
Figure plays with ground
Saturday 24 June, 11am – 12.30pm
All painting wrestles with figure/ground relations, whether within the bounds of the canvas or in its relationship to the space around it. What does this mean in the larger philosophical sense? What compels us to assert form – as in figure – over formlessness – as in ground?Event Link
Opacity turns transparent
Saturday 3 June, 11am – 12.30pm
Penny will be joined by Mark Gevisser, Sisipho Ngodwana and Candice Thikeson in engaging with participants of Saturday’s open form/open studio talk “Opacity turns Transparent”
Can tracking the physical transformation of the medium, from wet white opaque substance to dry transparent layer, offer a way to talk about larger questions of the dynamics inherent in cultural translation?Event Link
Horizontal becomes vertical
Saturday 20 May, 11am – 12.30pm
Working horizontally, looking down and engaging in intimate tactile relations with the medium gives a sense of being ‘in’ the painting. How does this change when the painting is in a vertical position? Can this experience of proximity and distance speak to the ways humans relate in the wider world?Event Link
Materiality and its acts
Saturday 6 May, 11am – 12.30pm
Penny Siopis and Sean O’Toole will discuss contemporary painting, focusing on its propensity for materiality and performance, chance and contingency, and pondering if and how these aspects might speak beyond the studio to comment on society at large.