Dream & Discover
Work of the Week

Tshepiso Mazibuko

The Wick - Thapelo, Thokoza, 2017-2018, by Tshepiso Mazibuko

Thapelo, Thokoza, 2017-2018, by Tshepiso Mazibuko

Thapelo, Thokoza,
2017-2018, The Harry Ransom Centre Archive

The South African photographer Tshepiso Mazibuko belongs to the ‘born free’ generation, South Africans born after apartheid, with the hopes and promises of a more equal society. The reality for many Black South Africans, however, is still extremely difficult in a society riddled with inequalities and injustice.

Mazibuko trained in photography at the Market Photo Workshop, the institution set up by David Goldblatt that has since produced many of the country’s leading international names in the medium of photography. It was there that Mazibuko found her voice and decided she needed to document her own reality, as she saw it – her series of photographs titled ‘Ho tshepa ntshepedi ya bontshepe’, a proverb meaning ‘to believe in something that will never happen’, focuses on young black people, ‘born frees’ who like her live in the township of Thokoza, around thirty kilometres from Johannesburg – whose meaning in English is ‘place of peace’. Thokoza historically was established as a black township for labourers, with poor living conditions persisting to today. In the lead up to the 1994 elections, Mazibuko saw violent clashes.

Mazibuko deals with life in the township today, as it appears to her and her generation. Despite the obvious and suggested hardships in her photographs, the faces of children and young people she portrays are determined and proud. They persevere because no matter their circumstances, there is still a sense of hope and change that may yet make good on the born free promise.

Last week, Tshepiso Mazibuko was named the winner of the 2024 Madame Figaro Photo Prize and is the recipient of the Louis Roederer Foundation 2024 Discovery People’s Choice Award. Her series Ho tshepa ntshepedi ya bontshepe (To Believe in something that will never happen) is on view at the Louis Roederer Foundation 2024 Discovery Award exhibition, curated by Audrey Illouz, at Les Recontres D’Arles (until September 29, 2024).

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The Wick - Beatriz Milhazes: Mistura Sagrada | Pace Gallery

Dream Mistura Sagrada, 2022, by Beatriz Milhazes

You can almost smell the ocean breeze in Beatriz Milhazes’s captivating abstract paintings burst with intense colour and bold geometric patterns. The Brazilian artist’s inspiration for both of these elements is found in her hometown Rio de Janiero: the luscious tropical scenes of the Tijuca rainforest, just a stone’s throw from the artist’s studio; the bustling promenade along the city’s beaches; Baroque and architecture, Catholic iconography – all part of the rich and complex fabric of her homeland’s culture.

Milhazes refers to her style as “chromatic free geometry.” Her large-scale canvases were an important part of a Brazilian movement known as Geração 80, who pushed towards a visceral kind of abstract painting, a sharp move away from the heavily conceptual language of artists who defined Brazil’s art scene in the 1970s. In that exciting milieu, Milhazes brought the approach of collage to painting, and by the end of the 1980s she had come up with her signature ‘monotransfer’ method, painting her own motifs onto plastic sheets that are then transposed onto the canvas.

The resulting multi-layered canvases often stretch to several metres in size – the metallic and fluorescent pigments and illusory patterns seem to vibrate and have a magnetic force. It’s no wonder Milhazes has become such a sought-after figure, with a four-decade survey currently underway at Tate St Ives, until 29 September 2024. Overlooking the same ocean that Milhazes is inspired by, it’s a perfect setting for paintings that are the quintessence of the feeling of freedom and summer.
The Wick - Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery

Discover Kalibbala from the Kuchu Nsenene (Grasshopper) Clan, 2023-2024, by Leilah Babirye

As we continue to honour contemporary queer artists through Pride Month and beyond at The Wick, we look to the woven, whittled and welded sculptures of Ugandan artist Leila Babirye. Babirye was forced to flee her home country in 2015 after her sexuality was revealed in a local newspaper. The Ugandan Parliament had since passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act in March 2023, criminalizing consensual same-sex conduct with penalties of up to life imprisonment, and the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” which includes repeated same sex acts. LGBTQI people face widespread, endemic violence and discrimination. In 2018, Babirye was granted asylum in the US.

In her adopted home of New York, Babirye collects discarded items from the streets, transforming these unwanted items into defiant objects of beauty. Traditional African masks, hand carved in wood or cast in clay, are incorporated into her sculptures too, representing the diverse community she lives among – such as this vibrant piece constructed of glazed ceramic, wood, wax, bicycle tubes and found objects, nailed together into a totem that appears both strong and fragile.

Describing her process, Babirye explains: “Through the act of burning, nailing and assembling, I aim to address the realities of being gay in the context of Uganda and Africa in general.”

The Wick - Dream All the Old Punx, 2018, by Juliana Huxtable

Dream All the Old Punx, 2018, by Juliana Huxtable

We continue to support and celebrate Pride Month at The Wick throughout June taking a look at iconic works of art that have shaped our understanding of queerness through groundbreaking art.

36-year-old, NYC-based artist Juliana Huxtable works in a diverse range of media – performance, music, writing, and nightlife project Shock Value all form part of an expansive, all-encompassing practice dealing in turn with the intersections of race, gender, queerness and cultural identity. Huxtable rose to international acclaim after a dazzling,Sci-fi series of self-portraits were included, alongside a sculpture of Huxtable by artist Frank Benson, in the 2015 Triennial at the New Museum, New York. Huxtable’s unmistakable, digital age language often places her body in history to consider socio-political threats to her body as a black trans woman.

Juliana Huxtable’s All the Old Punx (2018) explores activism and conspiracy theories: digging into histories, narratives and technologies that have been neglected or forgotten, the mixed media collage traces the origins of black trans style back to punk subculture. In punk, Huxtable finds a shared sensibility: a DIY aesthetic, rebellion, resistance and resilience, a willingness to break away from the established order. Huxtable’s work is a key critical voice, while continuing to crucially challenge contemporary perceptions of identity and politics.

All the Old Punx (2018) is currently showing as part of transfeminisms, Chapter II: Radical Imaginations at Mimosa House. Transfeminisms, which will evolve to a total of five chapters, is a major touring group exhibition exploring the urgent and immediate issues facing women, queer and trans people around the world today.
The Wick - Kodwa I, Amsterdam, 2017
from the Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail, the Dark Lioness) series
Photo Credit: RISD Museum

Kodwa I, Amsterdam, 2017, by Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi’s major retrospective – cut short by covid when it first went up in 2020 – returns to Tate Modern this week, coinciding with the first week of Pride Month. The slightly expanded exhibition includes works from across more than two decades of the artist’s photography, moving between the soft gaze on queer bodies and experiences in tender documentary image, realized in close collaboration with participants, to searing self-portraits that skewer dominant ideologies and ways of looking at queer Black bodies. New sculptures have also been added, on view to the public for the first time, including a representation of the female sexual anatomy in bronze.

Muholi’s work can be seen in relation to South African history and the social and political changes that occurred in the 1990s. While South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation – the first constitution in the world to do so in 1996 – the reality for many LGBTQIA+ people in South Africa was starkly different, and violence and prejudice remain rife. Many of Muholi’s long-term, ongoing photo-based projects stem from the need to commemorate, memorialize and pay witness to their community and their experiences, trauma and joy.

This dramatic self-portrait belongs to a more recent series, entitled Somnyama Ngonyama (‘Hail the Dark Lioness’ in isiZulu) in which Muholi turns the camera on themself, performing different characters, using everyday items from their surroundings to create sculptural costumes. The images each respond to experiences the artist has had in the place the portrait was made – encounters with racism, eurocentrism, and homophobia. The contrast in the images is enhanced in post production to emphasize the darkness of their skin tone, to reclaim their Blackness, a statement of pride. Muholi’s exhibition runs to January 26, 2025.
The Wick - Dream untitled: canvasracks, 2018-2019, by Phyllida Barlow

Dream untitled: canvasracks, 2018-2019, by Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow, “kept her fans and followers on the edge of their seats”, according to Frances Morris - becoming yet more ambitious and audacious with her sculptures in the last decade of her career. The venerated British artist, who died last year, aged 78, left an incomparable legacy - not only through her work, but also through her teaching (the likes of Rachel Whitehead and Angela de la Cruz were among those she trained at the Slade during her long academic career at the school, until she retired in 2009).

Barlow created works that wowed in scale but were somehow not monumental - using everyday, ordinary materials that could be easily obtained or identified - cheap and readily available items like cardboard, scrim, plaster and plywood frequently made their way into her work. Restless and endlessly playful, her sculptures could take almost any form; bursting and bustling with energy, filling rooms, jutting from the ceiling or sprouting unexpectedly from the ground.

This work, untitled: canvasracks, 2018-2019 appeared in Barlow’s acclaimed exhibition cul-de-sac at the Royal Academy in 2022. A continuation of the flurry of colours Barlow introduced to the British Pavilion for her 2017 presentation at the Venice Biennale, the sculpture comprises brightly coloured, thick canvas sheets, made to look as though chucked casually over metal supports, anchored precariously in heavy, austere concrete supports that seem to counterbalance the casual gesture made by the canvas. It epitomises Barlow’s brilliant insouciance as a sculptor.

An exhibition celebrating Barlow’s work, unscripted, curated by Morris, is on view at Hauser & Wirth Somerset until 5 January, 2025. “There’s something about walking around sculpture that has the possibility of being reflective, like walking through a landscape,” Barlow has said. “The largeness of sculpture has that infinite possibility to make one engage beyond just the object itself and into other realms of experience.”
The Wick - Photo by Peter Granser

The Tarot Garden, Tuscany, by Niki de Saint Phalle

“I used to think there was a need to provoke, to attack religion, and the generals. And then I understood that there is nothing more shocking than joy”, artist Niki de Saint Phalle once declared.

The venerated French painter sculptor died on this day in 2002, aged 71, after a lifetime filling the world with her joyful and exuberant creations, from her dancing nanas, womanly forms that are both playful and assertive, to her fountains and public art – but surely the most ambitious and impressive among them is The Tarot Garden (Il Giardino dei Tarocchi) in Tuscany. The artist considered it her life work.

The vast sculpture park is built on land de Saint Phalle acquired in 1979, and took almost two decades to complete. De Saint Phalle funded the construction herself, and worked with a local team – many are still employed at the park today. The project was so all-consuming that before it opened to the public in 1998, the artist lived inside one of the sculptures, the Empress, for several years.

The 22 sculptures – reinforced concrete, adorned with mirrors and mosaics – each represent 22 major arcana of the divinatory, esoteric tarot. De Saint Phalle said she wanted to create a “dialogue between nature and the sculptures”, and after her death that the park should always be accessible to the public, to exist as ”a garden of joy.” Today, it easily rivals the power of Parc Güell or Parco dei Mostri – two landmark locations that inspired de Saint Phalle. It is a reminder that you can never dream too big.
The Wick - Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck 2020 - Series Safe Space

Discover Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck

Tea has long played an integral role in the life and work of artist Johanna Tagada Hoffbeck. The transdisciplinary and cultural practitioner, who lives in rural Oxfordshire, even founded Journal du Thé – a magazine paying homage to tea cultures and their positive impact in communities around the world.

This painting, Rahel, is part of a larger body of work Safe Space, made during the pandemic year. The paintings are close-up, cropped views of Tagada Hoffbeck’s close friends, tenderly holding teacups in bold, minimal brush strokes; a tribute to the traditions of taking tea and their potential to create space for conversation and healing. For each of the paintings, Tagada Hoffbeck also created a soundscape – three minute monologues narrated by the subjects of the works. (The accompaniment for Rahel can be heard here).

Safe Space embodies Tagada Hoffbeck’s broader interest in compassion and care, and the ideologies underpinning her practice as an artist. Theories on Art therapy, Deep Ecology and Permaculture all intertwine in Tagada Hoffbeck’s sculptures, drawings, paintings, and installations, as much as they are evident in her community-oriented and gardening workshops and collaborations. With soft poetry and soothing palettes, Tagada Hoffbeck not only creates an evocative visual space, but invites the viewer to create a space within them.

Works by Tagada Hoffbeck are on view, alongside pieces by her partner, artist Jatinder Singh Durhailay, and potter Jynsym Ong, in an exhibition Ponderings Over Tea, at GALLERY 1+5, Oxford, from 11 – 24 May, 2024.
The Wick - Discover Rob & Nick Carter, Lemon after Jan Pauwell Gillemans

Discover Rob & Nick Carter, Lemon after Jan Pauwell Gillemans

This zesty new supergloss print is a limited edition exclusively for Dulwich Picture Gallery by artist duo Rob and Nick Carter as part of their Dutch Golden Age series (2012 - 2018). In response to a painting by a follower of Jan Pauwel Gillemans the Elder, known as Still life with Crayfish (1686) held in Dulwich Picture Gallery’s collection, the husband and wife duo created their own rendition.

Honing in on the half-peeled, exquisitely rendered lemon, seen in the bottom right hand corner of the original oil painting, Rob and Nick Carter extracted the image of the fruit, manipulated the image using digital technology to enhance the colour, and producing a limited edition print. The resulting work magnifies a moment from art history, encouraging a prolonged view on this detail of the still life tableau, and prompting a fresh way of engaging with the historical work.

The London-based duo, who are known for their adapting new technologies while referencing historical processes in a range of media – said: "Our preoccupation with the Dutch Golden Age series primarily lies in the interest with the boundaries between the real and the imagined, the analogue and the digital, and the traditional and the contemporary.”

The prints are £1,100 + VAT unframed and £1,300 + VAT framed.
For all sales enquiries, please contact [email protected].
The Wick - Ophelia, Stanley William Hayter, 1936
Photo © Tate, London 2024

Dream Opelia, 1936 by Stanley William Hayter

Today is National Shakespeare Day – a celebration of The Bard of Avon and his indelible, unmatched contributions to culture. The great English playwright died on 23 April, 1616, aged 52, and although his exact date of birth is unknown, his birthday is also celebrated on 23 April. Shakespeare’s vivid themes and characters have inspired artists since the 17th century – including the late English painter and printmaker, Stanley William Hayter.

Hayter dabbled in Surrealism, but by the 1940s had turned towards an Abstract Expressionist language, and founded the Atelier 17 studio in Paris. He went on to become a renowned printmaker, celebrated for his advancements in viscosity printing. Hayter was equally active as a painter; this work, Ophelia, is an abstract interpretation of Ophelia’s iconic death scene in Act 4 of Hamlet. A reinvention of Sir John Everett Millais’ 1851-52 painting of the same name after the same scene, Hayter’s fragmented forms and bright colours prove that Shakespeare’s influence even extends into modern art, perennial human themes that continue to be reimagined by artists today.

Showing a Shakespearean sensibility for understanding the human condition, in 1969, the artist said: “what is the intention of art? Perhaps it is to lead man toward a fuller understanding of his terms of existence; to aid all people to live more completely and escape from the history of human error; to demonstrate by example that the human mind has unlimited capacity to go further and further the more one demands of it.”