Group exhibition and Mondli Mbhele solo: Expressions Unbound Sasol New Signatures 2023

Sep 7 - Oct 29 2023       Cnr Francis Baard and Wessels Sts, Arcadia Park
Pretoria Art Museum hosts Expressions Unbound, the Sasol New Signatures exhibition, featuring the work of the 2023 winners and finalists. Running alongside the collection is a solo exhibition by last year's winner, Mondli Mbhele, which was unveiled on Sep 6 along with the announcement of this year’s winners.

Is it fair to say this might be one of the best showcases of South African talent at Sasol New Signatures, so far? The selected finalists have pulled out all the stops and it was hard to walk away without purchasing one (or 20) artworks.

Rory Prinsloo’s Blackdog @i Reverie, for example. If not for the intriguing medium and style of the sculpture, then perhaps for its intrusive thought bubble and subtle pop culture references in the work. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a smiley face or trying to decipher words (in this case, stamped on resin)?

Staša Kerryn Hlava’s Souvenir V also caught our attention. On the one hand, it may be a stand-out addition to your collection of snow globes or perfect to sit aside a glass terrarium, but the work is also a powerful suggestion of the lengths mankind might need to go through to preserve what’s left of nature. Perhaps it’s a delicate display of eco-tourism and the ways it could educate human beings on the impact we have in this world. Whichever way, a rightfully named work of art, indeed.
Tamantha Williams’s The buyers remorse had us thinking for a while. Is the viewer truly allowed to step up and take a seat? Immersive art is always fascinating and this time we are no longer voyeurs scrutinising a concept from afar, but an active participant in the exchange of a reality most consumers have felt. Staring at your own face in the mirror directly opposite you is a daunting and uncomfortable task, but a necessary reflection on the choices we make. The incredible erasure of colour makes the blood-stained napkin and locked chain scream, “Something is wrong!” and begs the question: "Is it that difficult to reverse what’s ingrained in us?" An intense look at the late-stage capitalism the Western world is facing right now, The buyers remorse has too many layers to list, it’s best to participate in person.
A small but profound work of art by Staša Kerryn Hlava titled Souvenir V. To the left, in the distance, you'll see Tamantha Williams’s The buyers remorse with a chain on the floor and a plaque that reads "BE SEATED". Screenshot from Sasol New Signatures virtual exhibition.

You’ll find that, among the finalists, there’s a noticeable amount of true-to-life works, a style that has fallen out of the limelight in recent years. Although with this year’s runner-up Themba Mkhangeli representing the impeccable style, along with a few other artists in this year’s exhibition, South Africa might see more hyperrealism pop up in our creative spaces.

Chosen from 765 entries, the exhibition is an incredible showcase of talent and a display of an abundance of mixed-media works including acrylic on hardboard and glass, ribbon thread on linen, ceramics, ink drawings and graphite on Fabriano, to name a few. A number of themes are apparent in the works this year. Pfunzo Sidogi, Sasol New Signatures Chairperson comments, “Poverty, love, religion, rape, climate change, displacement, are some of the individual and collective narratives captured throughout the hundreds of submissions.” And the Pretoria Art Museum provides a space for all these creative voices to be heard and seen. 

Ingoma Yothando, or 'Song of Love' translated from isiZulu, is the solo exhibition by Mbhele, the 2022 winner. As part of his process, the artist collects offcuts of fabric from various fashion artists in Durban and Johannesburg. “Fabric covers our bodies while boosting our confidence and providing a new canvas for each day.” Therefore, creating a new canvas with a collage of discarded fabrics is a metaphor for a state of vulnerability and provides a commentary on the cycle of the fabric’s value and its worth. 

This is always an incredibly worthwhile visit, as Sasol New Signatures draws work from across the country, and the range of pieces is fascinating to explore. Read more about the prize winners here



Sep 7 2023 - Oct 29 2023
Pretoria Art Museum
Cnr Francis Baard and Wessels Sts, Arcadia Park

Price/Additional Info

Free entry

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