Regeneration and Other Cases
27 September – 18 November 2012
SMAC Art Gallery is proud to present ARTOMS: Histopathology, Regeneration and Other Cases, a solo exhibition by Sandile Zulu in Stellenbosch.
After recently exhibiting at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, this is Sandile Zulu’s first solo show in South Africa in over five years and his first with the gallery.
A “visual explorer” and “pyromancer”, Zulu translates his explorations onto canvas in the archetypal mediums of fire, water, air and earth. His use of fire in particular, as both “image and process”, encourages the viewer to think about the politics of this volatile element. Both the paradox of fire as a creative and destructive force, as well as Africa’s history with fire, underpins this exhibition. It is the same intriguing element of risk involved in the controlled burning of veld fires that is at play in his compelling works on canvas. Zulu has a deep interest in biology, sociology, astronomy, philosophy, history and psychology. The word histopathology from the exhibition title, refers to the microscopic examination of tissue undertaken to study the manifestations of disease.
Zulu acts as pathologist, so to speak, looking at the universality of our human biology as a metaphor for exploring what he understands to be a “diseased society”, where our lived human experience is far from the one of the universality which our cells, tissues, muscles would suggest it to be. Having been brought up in rural Ixopo, KwaZulu Natal, and having experienced forced fencing and continual encroachment on his own family farm, issues surrounding inequalities have always been central to his work. It is not only the ignorant who Zulu sees as responsible for our disease, but also those who are aware of the inflictions in society and turn a blind eye. Zulu says that it is the social issues that negate us from one another: “It is not about pointing fingers, it’s about how I raise my perceptions as far as society is concerned from a creative or visual point of view”.
Zulu’s large-scale fire scalded canvases look like specimens or blood samples compressed between contact plates and put under microscopic view. His flat fire forms are strangely fluid and weird wormings. The DNA spiral structure, Rorschach-like burns, and scorched colon-like spinal columns form unusually beautiful images. The recurrent burnt patterns in this body of work point at our human biology as equal. Zulu remarks: “We come from one source, one genome, we are not different. This is the very serious side kick that goes with that fantasy I create”.
The exhibition runs until the 18th of November. Please contact the gallery for a portfolio of works. Sandile Zulu was born in 1962 in Ixopo, KwaZulu Natal. He currently lives and works in Fordsburg, central Johannesburg. Sandile Zulu has exhibited across South Africa, Europe and the United States. He was awarded an artist residency in Dachau, Germany in 2004 and has received several awards including the 1998 The President’s Award at the 6th Biennale of Contemporary Art, Seychelles and the Civitella Ranieri Fellowship Award in 2000. He recently featured in the Artists in Dialogue Series at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Washington DC.