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Ron Mandos opens an exhibition of new paintings by the South African artist WonderBuhle
Installation view.

AMSTERDAM.- Galerie Ron Mandos is presenting uNyezi, an exhibition of new paintings by the South African artist WonderBuhle.* The exhibition takes the name of his daughter uNyezi, meaning the moon or the one that sits among the stars.

Wonderbuhle’s muses are presented with an air of youth, serenity, and self-possession – guided by the moon’s light and protected by the magical flowers that adorn their faces. The figures stand immersed in a sea of the purest sage green. This symbolic color – appearing for the first time in these new works – cleanses his muses of negative energies and grants them the wisdom to face the future.

*Curatorial guidance for this exhibition was provided by Azu Nwagbogu (Director of the African Artists’ Foundation)

When starting his new project, Wonderbuhle imagined himself sitting in his garden at night, looking at the moon and listening to the sounds of small insects. In doing so, past associations of the night as a dark and dangerous space gave way to a new sense of peace. By tapping into the night’s energies, he could extract messages to counsel him about life. He translates these experiences into works like Ama Tempest Calmers I and II, where figures wait for messages not immediately revealed to them. There is more to the night than meets the eye.

All WonderBuhle’s works are shrouded in symbolism and belief. Ancestral belief plays a significant role in the work and the life of the artist, illustrated in such works as Umoyamunye [“The Spirit is One”], where a central figure with pink hands and eyes wide open is one with the ancestors. She sees for the unseeing ones around her while transferring them knowledge through their hair connection.

Since 2010, the artist has been living and working in Durban – the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, the most eastern province of South Africa. Living in this modern and chaotic city has not always been easy for him. As such, giving space to his traditional upbringing, whilst acknowledging forms of oppression in the post-Apartheid era have been occupations central to his practice. Slowly, WonderBuhle began to surface with a fresh understanding of his position within his family and the South African community at large.

WonderBuhle’s nightly meditations and lengthy calls with his family members help him calibrate his sense of what is important in life. His grandmother for example, who is depicted in iSbonakaliso [“Night Vision”], taught him to always herd the family in a greater direction – often reminding him “If you mess it up, you collapse the whole family structure.” Her messages have found expression in WonderBuhle’s new pieces in which his imaginary models have become reflections of his emotions and callings. Wherever one sees the works, the embedded spirituality and energy move its viewers towards a state of peace.

“The calling of being a big brother at home, to be a leader to my younger brothers and my kids, and bringing new knowledge and teachings, how we can grow spiritually and to be informed about things in society. That’s the whole point of the show.” – WonderBuhle

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