Tinyiko Makwakwa’s Cosmos and the Community
Sometime during the course of this week, in the beautiful space of Braamfontein in Johannesburg, we visited the Kalashnikovv Gallery. From the outside the portraits, that find home within the gallery space and rest on the walls, already have something to say. They call you in. Therefore, we stepped into the Gallery and the moment our feet kissed the floor of the art space, the faces of three sitters alive on one canvas greeted us and welcomed us to Tinyiko Makwakwa’s Cosmos and Community.
This is a solo exhibition that carries the girl from Tzaneen’s rich Xitsonga history. At first glance, the works are just faces of men and women from our soil whose skin is cared for by the sun. However, when you take a deeper look, you realize that there is so much more that lives on their skin and finds comfort in their eyes.
Cosmos and Community
Nothing will introduce the narrative of an art exhibition like the name bestowed upon it. We stood in the gallery space and asked ourselves what it is she was saying with the title of her work? Whose community was portrayed within the space? What story was being told? Whose story was being told? We also pondered on the word cosmos. Were the thoughts of this community depicted on the portraits? Was she telling us about a people’s relationship with the realm that allows us to be: the universe? In our eyes, Cosmos and Community is lens through which we see a people’s philosophy, kinship with the world as well as with each other.
Though, who are the men and the women who form this community in her body of work? We had an idea that she was telling the story of a people whom she forms a part of. Our conception comes from how personal art is; it is difficult to detach creation from the creator.
Makwakwa’s work is a documentation of her foremothers and fathers’ Van’wanti clan history before it was interrupted by the colonial encounter. For us, Cosmos and Community is a look at her ancestry and the journey that they embarked on which ultimately brought her here.
To view the art exhibition, closing 30 June, visit 70 Juta Street Braamfontein. Let us know what you took home from Cosmos and Community.