While trying my hand at sculpture for the first time last year at Greatmore, I had Maurice as a neighbour in the studio across the courtyard. This courtyard at Greatmore is a very special place where artists come out of their respective caves and talk. Its also a very visceral perspective of each others practice, you can see, hear, smell and feel what the other is up to all day.
Maurice works hard. His practice is one that definitely blows any idea of artistic "glamour" out of the water. It takes a lot of hard slog, working with difficult materials to make his works. His themes are equally difficult, focused on the inevitably apocalyptic / dystopian outcome of our human endeavours. With good reason too, coming from the Congo as he does, he has personal experience and national history to draw on.
In November last year, already in full swing in preparation for his current exhibition, he expressed the wish to include more figurative sculptures, portraits; specifically of the two most central historical Congolese political figures, in his show somehow. If only he had the time to make them.
And so a collaboration was born. I was game to give it try, I had the time and Maurice very sweetly expressed confidence in my ability to pull them off. I'm grateful to him for this push. THIS exchange is the essence of the beauty of colleagues in any industry.
We are both interested in using found and recycled materials in our processes, indeed this is our primary meeting point as artists. Fancy art materials are expensive anyway, so we added the mandate, or challenge if you will, for the sculptures to be as cost effective as possible considering a non existent budget between the two of us. Obviously you also want to make work that is going to stand the test of time; they must have archival value as objects.
Oh, and he needed three heads for his babies too, so my five sculptural contributions in total took me three months to make; using newspaper, cardboard, clay, and of course paint. We agreed that Maurice would finish off the busts with newspaper collage, resin and clothing details. Maurice added video and sound to the installation in their final presentation which I, sadly, have not seen as I left Cape Town before he completed them. I await an online share.
The busts of Mobutu and Patrice Lumumba in particular are super cool as objects I think but I have not fully wrapped my head around their importance as commentary. They are a warning. They are Caesar and Brutus; an historical loop. They are a tragic legend. A political recurrence throughout history. They are happening now. Maurice's entire show asks us "Will we ever learn or is it too late?" "Are you ready for the results of your actions?" "Do you have your own house, heart and soul in order?"
Thank you Maurice for the photos (from our WhatsApp chat, so they are not fancy you understand)
Maurice's show is currently on at Gallery Momo, Cape Town
Painter and Sculptor