The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) is pleased to present MIGRATION: The Stories of Two Artists, featuring remarkable new collections by the Franco-Algerian mixed-media practitioner ,Patrick Altes, and the Zimbabwean contemporary oil painter and mosaics specialist, Ronald Muchatuta.
From their different social and geographical perspectives, the two artists deal with themes of displacement and alienation, political and economic upheaval, and Africa’s interface with European and Asian cultures. As natives of North and Southern Africa respectively, they speak from their own personal experiences with migration, colonial and post-colonial societies, their exposure to the challenges faced by refugees, and the cultural cross currents of life in the African diaspora.
Patrick Altes, born in Algeria during the war of independence to French parents of Spanish origin, remains immersed in the deep links and multi-layered relationship between North Africa and Europe. Through his striking use of mixed media and collages on canvas, and employing a pallette of colours inspired by coastal Algeria, Altes depicts the fear, antagonism, risks, alienation and dislocation experienced by economic and political migrants. His work quietly advocates for a world of compassion and understanding, where differences are overcome and there is harmonious coexistence.
This note to Altes’ work “Veiled Dreams, 2016” demonstrates the driving forces behind his current collection:
“We inhabit spaces and places of belonging, for protection and security. But borders and walls, the manifestations of fear, suspicion and intolerance, define these spaces. How do we develop compassion and empathy for others, enough to let them into our world and share our safety?”
The work of Ronald Muchatuta, trained as a multi-disciplined artisan during his teens and young adulthood in urban Harare, embodies the challenges faced by African migrants, as interpreted from his present position as a celebrated emerging visual artist based in Cape Town. Exhibited at GAFRA, Muchatuta’s dark and brooding, yet exceptionally vivid and powerful, recent oil paintings incisively explore timely topics such as the transitory artificiality of borders, a needed reversal of Africa’s intellectual and professional “brain drain”, China’s increasingly pervasive influence on the continent, and the disturbing symbolism of Africa’s diminishing wildlife population.
These excerpted comments, on several of Muchatuta’s oil paintings in this collection, offer glimpses of his dramatic perspectives on African migration---
“Conflict and war forced migration is inevitable; human beings migrate like schools of fish. Wildlife is in a constant fight against the partitioned properties of man...wildlife and man share the same fate or the same struggle of trying to move to the other side. One loses their original stripes when they are in foreign land.”