Mxolisi Vusi Beauchamp | Paradyse of the Damned III
Solo Exhibition at Kalashnikovv Gallery, Johannesburg
04.10.18 – 28.10.18
Text by Judy Peters
Kalashnikovv Gallery Presents the third iteration of ‘Paradys of the Damned’ by Mxolisi Vusimuzi Beauchamp. This show is his second solo exhibition with the gallery and the third in a series of work that has previously been shown only at The Pretoria Art Museum and at J.A.G. The third iteration of this body of work features a series of mixed media works on paper as well as a collaborative sculptural piece with Angus Taylor.
Original text from Paradyse of the Damned – P.T.A Art Museum 2014. By Judy Peter.
Post-race, post-black, post-apartheid, are some of the notions that seem to resonate in the artworks of this exhibition ‘Paradys of Damned’. A comic artist and an accomplished artist in the broader visual and cultural sector-Mxolisi Vusimuzi Beauchamp’s profile typifies the younger generation of educated South African artists. These are artists who have not been acculturated into positions of apathy when reflecting on the fraught politics of the land or neo-liberal manifestations of a rising black petit-bourgeoisie.
He remains resolute in his self-imposed desire to respond to contemporary political debate, discourse and regime change. While he seems to epitomize protest from his African and French names, to his apparent reckless Rastafarian persona, to his jarring iconographies, and his provocative usage of medium and technique. He is consistent in his non-conformist and unlimited visual political commentary and satire. In the title of the exhibition Paradys of the Dammed, Beauchamp comments on the frequent occurrence of grammatical errors on national protest placards in the new dispensation.
In my understanding, this phenomenon speaks of a shift in protest culture, as opposed to demonstrations organized just before the ANC was inaugurated. Protest was deliberate, organized, mandated and depending on which political left you belonged,it was generously funded, and was therefore, carefully considered. New and young protest voices today are sometimes misguided, lack responsible leadership, and continue the culture of, “we have nothing to lose but our lives.”
In this exhibition Beauchamp, once more returns to the controversial and outrageous usage of stereotypical renditions and new readings of the binaries of civilized and uncivilized. This is demonstrated in the recurring images of monkeys and its association with key political leaders in Philanthropist, and using exaggerated negroid features in the colonial tradition of Enid Blyton’s golliwogs. Yet, like Zapiro, Beauchamp remains accountable and mindful of a derogatory interpretation of raced and gendered politics.
Beachamp acknowledges the influence of New York graffiti artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat and South African comic artist, Mark Kannemeyer in his work. He also explores the vexed domain of free speech, and their satirical responses to complex racial narratives in South Africa. Beauchamp’s use of non-conformist creative strategies highlights contestation and creates platforms for critical dialogues and conversations. His creative practice is not burdened with the baggage of the histories of South African protest or struggle art, but moves from a point of agency. Beauchamp has successfully documented the aftermath of myopic victories of the ‘Rainbow Nation’, and a negotiated settlement. He represents a generation of artists who epitomises the fearless and uncompromising passion in their visual and artistic commentary of live experiences in a ‘fraught Rainbow Nation’.