Counterpoints/Moshekwa Langa: Mogalakwena, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2013. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly
Counterpoints/Moshekwa Langa: Mogalakwena, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2013. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly
On View
Jan 25, 2013–Jul 28, 2013
Main Level, Contemporary Gallery

Born in rural Bakenberg, South Africa in 1975 and now based in Amsterdam, internationally acclaimed artist Moshekwa Langa uses everyday objects and organic materials to create whimsical, map-like collages and imaginary landscapes that link disparate things.

Sponsored in part by the Francis P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/College of Fine and AppliedArts, the Lorado Taft Lectureship on Art Fund/College of Fine and Applied Arts, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency

Langa's diaristic paintings and assemblages are born of a boyhood fascination with the power of words to conjure images in the mind's eye. Discovering that Bakenberg—located in the apartheid-era KwaNdebele "homeland"—was not even on the maps he was shown at school, Langa assembled his own map and inserted himself into it. Today, Langa is perhaps best known for his introspective, almost insurgent visual journeys through time, place, and memory, and for his attention to ephemeral acts and events that evoke enduring narratives of (be)longing, displacement, and solitude.

Immersive and topographical, Langa's poetic installations emerge from his intimate connections to people and places, often lost or left behind. Though free of distinct destinations, they are navigable terrains, adeptly exploiting the aesthetic and accidental offerings of his chosen materials. Langa "draws" with yarn and string, and delights in the abundance of small colorful toys interspersed among fanciful outcrops of books and LPs.

The beet juice, salt crystals, wine, coffee, and tea with which he paints possess an organic materiality that is eternally giving, and in Langa's hands, capable of extraordinary beauty. Collaged adjacencies clipped and created anew become layered striations and fragmented terrains of Dutch tulip fields, South African thorn trees, mirages, and thresholds of interior, mystical spaces.

Indeed, Langa's psycho-geographical mark-making throws into relief the limits of place-based identity, African or otherwise, and the liberating power to envison the spaces in between.

Curator: Allyson Purpura