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Experience ‘The Whispering of the Stars’ at Melrose Gallery

The Melrose Gallery presents a solo exhibition by Papytsho Mafolo titled The Whispering of the Stars. Mafolo’s first solo exhibition in South Africa will run from 4 February – 6 March 2022 at The Melrose Gallery in Johannesburg.

The Whispering of the Stars explores traditional African mythology and belief, that views the sky, the moon and the stars as part of the Earth. In African mythology it was believed that celestial phenomena were natural signs united with the Earth in harmonious synchronicity.

  • Papytsho Mafolo
  • Papytsho Mafolo
  • Papytsho Mafolo

This new body of work, created in 2021, continues to explore the realities of an African culture fragmented by foreign hegemony via figures half human and half animal dancing across his canvases.

These figures work to shift and mirror life in constant dialogue with the sacred, each passing moment becomes a call to listen to the whispers of the invisible lips of the spiritual world. What emerges is a view of nature as something imbued with a rich spiritual significance.

Questioning Europe’s influence on Africa

Papytsho Mafolo
Papytsho Mafolo

Born Congolese and now based in Belgium, Papytsho has spent a considerable amount of time living and working in Europe. The exhibition aims to question European-made identities and their influence on and relevance to those who are indigenous to Africa.

Seeing everything as relationally in conversation, Mafolo evokes this by collaging gold leaf, printed images, acrylic but also oil paint and unfinished lines on canvas. These unfinished lines, according to Mafolo, evoke an infinite world but are also a self-reminder that artistically, he has not arrived yet.

Symbolically this represents how European identities were imposed on Africans by the colonisers to the detriment of the indigenous identities. African philosophy emphasises this as it is based upon the belief that life is a vital unity and that the human being is only a point on the cosmic circle of life. The distinguishing features of this philosophy are its welfarism, altruism, universalism and its utilitarian outlook.

Central to this is the near-universal lesson that ‘to be human is to affirm one’s humanity by affirming the humanity of others.’ Thus, individualism is what threatens humanity and the lines left unfinished in Mafolo’s work leave room for another, his spiritual self or you to finish.

  • Papytsho Mafolo
  • Papytsho Mafolo
  • Papytsho Mafolo

This cultural mix from which our time has inherited, must be seen as an opportunity towards perfection and not as an element of destruction of our values, because in this meeting of give and take everyone makes their contribution.

The exhibition will also be presented online on a viewing room which will allow a deeper and more personal insight into the artist through text, photography and a recent video interview between Papytsho and Ayoko Mensah, Artistic Officer at the BOZAR in Belgium.

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