Journey to the One
01.12 .16 – 14.01.17
SMAC Gallery is pleased to present Journey to the One, a solo exhibition by Mongezi’s Ncaphayi. The exhibition follows Spirit’s Response, Ncaphyi’s debut solo exhibition, which he recently presented across the country as the 2013 ABSA L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner.
Journey to the One comprises of a new series of works on paper, showcasing a departure from Ncaphayi’s characteristic printmaking techniques, and features a number of gestural works on paper that reveal the artist’s hand. Each piece is emblematic of Ncaphayi’s particular style of minimalism, offering a sophisticated experience of thought-provoking abstraction with a focus on rhythm and form
The title; Journey to the One is borrowed from the name of the 1980 dual album led by legendary American jazz saxophonist Pharoah Saunders. This intersection is no coincidence. Ncaphayi, a proficient saxophonist himself, creates work driven by process, incorporating the improvisational qualities of Jazz music with a well-developed technical methodology that results in his own distinctively abstract visual vocabulary. Describing his inclination towards the non-figurative, Ncaphayi explains that;
Abstraction offers the possibility for profound, transcendental expression. I also view music as the most transcendent form of non-objective art, since it can evoke images in listeners’ minds through sound.
Well documented, and oft evaluated, is the human desire to solve or explain. Bound by our human instincts – regardless of the social and cultural institutions to which we ascribe – it is presumed inherent to attempt an understanding of the infinite complexities of ‘being’. While each individual goes about this endeavor in their own way, occasionally someone succeeds in pinpointing an intangible concept.
The manner in which Mongezi Ncaphayi visually presents such otherwise ethereal concepts is quintessential to the concept itself, making understanding a singularly congenital experience. Journey to the One reflects on this inherent desire to ‘know the un-knowable’, with ‘the One’ referring to The Source, The Origin, The Unknown.
Ncaphayi creates intricate, compulsive networks of line and colour, his distinctive visual language dashing across the surface of the paper like notes across the stave – in a series of flourishes, augmented by focused areas of delicate mark-making, linear strokes and organic shapes in complimentary colours. The crescendo of dynamic movement and fragmented notation comes together in rich compositions that allude to sound and emotion through the unity of sensation, evoking an intuitive and innately spiritual experience.
Functioning as “spiritual maps”, the artist considers this new body of work as a series of primary drawings in which he develops a language, refining a tonal palette that intuitively illustrates notions of spiritual reform, independent from formal religious perceptions.
Engaging with ideas of communication, translation and interpretation as the route through which one might find meaning, the artist persistently codes and transcribes his understandings.
He mentions that “for every situation, you have to make a plan”, and Ncaphayi is a compulsive planner. Constructing entire archives that are consistently reassessed and refined into true ‘abstracts’ of his explanations of the universal visual experience, Journey to the One is a collection of “guides to the unknown” – translated and abstracted for interpretation via the Spirit.