11 November 2023 – 25 January 2024
Southern Guild Gallery
Cape Town, South Africa
Southern Guild is pleased to present An Order of Being, the gallery’s first solo exhibition by South African artist Manyaku Mashilo. The new body of figurative paintings navigate and construct an imaginative future realm. This abstracted plane – expansive in its capacity to heal, liberate and reinvent – is occupied by a collective of fluid, dreamlike figures.
Mashilo’s practice acts as a vehicle for sense-making; her canvases stand as liminal spaces for synthesising elements of her religious upbringing, ancestral heritage, both real and invented myth, folklore, science fiction, music and sourced archival photographic images. An Order of Being is a gentle confrontation with the multiplicity of the artist’s past, present and future facets of selfhood.
Though her work is rooted in the historically charged mode of portraiture, Mashilo regards her paintings as abstractions. Ethnographic photography from the 19th and early 20th centuries disseminated distorted representations of the depicted bodies, with each subject diminished through the colonial eye of Eurocentricism. Mashilo’s figures have been crafted anew, free of projection or historical reduction. “I invent characters,” she states, “I have had to create these subjects from scratch – make skin tones, plan similarities, consider race, exaggerate features – blank my slate while contending with the reality that I cannot unsee or un-know.”