This is a review of my first solo exhibition which took place at La Dolce Gallery in Maryville (East Tennessee).
Title of the Exhibition: Revisiting my Childhood: its political, economic and social nightmares.
Sandile Nzuza’s art exhibition went a step further than merely conveying an artistic vision with successful technique. He commendably integrated a personal tone that induces a stronger connection with the audience and enhances the impression of pain and beauty. What’s more, he executed them through diverse installation styles (paining, drawing, photography, and theoretical apparatuses), which kept the gallery intriguing, rather than stagnate from repetitive mediums.
He achieved a harmonious incorporation of various meanings that self-express, evoke compassion, and educate viewers about the social adversities that followed the apartheid in South Africa. The reoccurring premise is the innocence of children versus the corruption of war. Even his minimalist, conceptual setup of chairs of different quality separated with a barrier is an inferable part of a heavier message about segregation and oppression.
Due to the majority of the collection being black and white, the times when color is applied help emphasize the message/mood of the piece and encourage critical thinking for a more powerful takeaway. His painting entitled “Drum” especially supports that effect. The silhouette of a child looks out at a war zone of people splattered in red acrylic, and it is immediately associated with blood. The tinted paper makes you think the massacre continues on forever, while the application of white on the boy’s outline seems to symbolize purity.
The untitled cloth piece of two separate figures is my personal favorite that especially highlights Sandile’s skill and innovation. Despite a significant portion of the image having to maneuver over stitched seams, the frayed fabric adds to the charm without losing quality. The theme of the series of children’s portraits is innocence and having to find entertainment in the little things, which entailed making homemade toys. The fact that these works are done on reused materials is a clever application of that motif.
Review by Isabella Crockett
Images by Gevaun Grant
December 4, 2015