Nicholas Hlobo and Cinga Samson Umthamo Vernissage

 Wednesday 14 February, 6 - 8pm

At the Maitland Institute, Nicholas Hlobo and Cinga Samson present an immersive installation titled Umthamo.


In this exhibition Hlobo elevates his investigation of the materiality of copper, arranging pipes in dense, permeating masses, in a playful engagement with space.


Hlobo states: ‘With these materials I’m trying to find a stepping stone that might lead me on to something else – a newer challenge.’


The tangled, ecstatic shapes are a reflection of the movement of grasses in the wind, the force of blood through the capillaries, the stimulation of cells for sustenance.


Referring to the title, Umthamo, which translates as the volume of an object in space, Hlobo continues: ‘The exhibition space has volume in itself and these objects also have volume – it’s about volume within volumes.’


With its robust occupation of space, and sensitivity to the convolutions of process and movement, Hlobo’s Umthamo expresses a relish of the interchange between the macro and micro environments, and the interrelatedness of the self with one’s surroundings.


In a direct manifestation of responsiveness and contingency, a painting by Cinga Samson features in the exhibition after a conversation between the artists. Samson’s Diced Pineapples II, a portrait of a man holding a bouquet of flowers, enters the space as a catalyst of intergenerational dialogue. The figure stands enveloped in a flat background of fauna, the vegetative tendrils in Samson’s composition echoing Hlobo’s linear metallic forms across genre and medium.

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Mikhael Subotzky in conversation with Thuli Gamedze

Saturday 28 October, 11am - 12pm 

Join Mikhael and Thuli in conversation as they think/ talk through Mikhael’s recent practice in relation to contemporary political discourses that claim to have discarded 'rainbow nationism' in favour of radical creative production. 

Contemporary online activism has been effective in South Africa as a medium to embody new aesthetics and tones of protest that characterise the texture of this post-1994 chaos, but how does this virtual echo-chamber relate to an artist’s physical production and its institutional context?

Thuli and Mikhael will start with surface questions in relation to the immense body of work produced around the role of representational practices in a society whose time of crisis extends through multiple generations of oppression and exclusion. They will then drill down to look at the specific role of art practice in developing a rigorous criticality for the purpose of consequential structural change.

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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.

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Saturday 12 August, 11am – 1pm

The culmination of Open Form/ Open Studio 

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.