Saturday, October 24, 2020

art Review | THERE IS a NAKED MAN IN THE GALLERY

At the centre of the Kgetsi Ya Tsie exhibition at Thapong Visual Arts Centre are two commanding life-sized sculptures of a black man and woman. The sculptures are made of polished wood and were crafted by Barnabas Ndzuzo.

The male sculpture is in the main gallery and is made out of dark wood; there is no hint of its title in sight. The most striking thing is that the figure also displays a flaccid but huge manhood that had emphatic rivers of veins. I suppose it would be needless to add that it is naked.

The man carries a knobkerrie and a short-stemmed spear. Could this be a naked warrior at war or partaking in a ritual? His posture and tensed muscles imply movement.

Due to the absence of the title to suggest the context in which the body was created by the artist is, if regarded from Setswana culture, sexual organs stay hidden and have stayed hidden even when clothing was scant. However, this au naturale soldier, could be symbolic, because he has attacking weapons but no shield. Nothing protects his body. In fact, there is a weary expression on the man’s worn face; he isn’t grimacing or furious.
This causes me to interpret the sculpture as symbolic of a battle-worn nation possibly from the AIDS pandemic, seeing as the man’s sexual organs are exposed and he has no protection.

However, the female counterpart, also by Barnabas Ndzuzo, displayed in the outside shelter is sentimental with a soft facial expression. She appears to be a girl who has come of age and getting rounded. This is emphasised by the rings from the grains of the wood on the body of young women.

The Kgetsi ya Tsie exhibition also features a variety of works by Thapong’s artist members and is worthy of a visit to observe the range of work Batswana artists are capable of.

The exhibition will run until the June 13, 2007.

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