Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Zwelethu Mthethwa: Brave Ones

Zwelethu Mthethwa, South Africa's most well know portraitist, is back in NYC for his sixth solo show at the Jack Shainman Gallery.  To produce his new work he traveled back to his home town of Durban for a new series called "Brave Ones." 

The work captured the style of dress worn by a group of young men from a Nazareth baptist church. "There's an androgynous element in the fact that they wear kilts and blouses with frills. And they contrast that with something like sport socks and they wear shoes with the metal toe-so it's interesting how they mix and match." Their attire is a reflection of the history of the area, with the kilts reminiscent of the British and Scottish army's having been through. But what the artist found fascinating was the boys' misunderstanding of these pieces of Western dress. He particularly liked their casual use of the bow-tie. He said, "I like the way they take an item and create a new identity. So in a way they are reinventing their identity." 

The show runs through February 23, Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 West 20th Street, NYC.

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