Neo Matloga’s art is all about connection

Neo Matloga's Mantšeboa , 2020, Collage, charcoal, charcoal liquid and ink on canvas.
Neo Matloga's Mantšeboa , 2020, Collage, charcoal, charcoal liquid and ink on canvas.
Image: Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg Photography: Nina Liesk

Neo Matloga’s latest work tugs at something familiar– a yearning for social connection, for a closeness you know well but feel you’ve forgotten exists.

In his current exhibition Back of the Moon, now on show at the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg, the Limpopo-born artist portrays what he refers to as “socially confirmed” scenes that portray people dancing, sitting, talking, sharing a drink, even smoking – scenes that definitely fall into forbidden territory at this juncture in SA’s reality.“

Neo Matloga's Mmadira, 2020.
Neo Matloga's Mmadira, 2020.
Image: Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg Photography: Nina Lieska

“I chose to make work that reflects on daily dramas, love affairs, gatherings and conversations,” says the 27 year-old. “I seek to offer insights into human nature and everyday living.”

The artist who now spends his time between South Africa and the Netherlands where he completed the De Ateliers residency in Amsterdam in 2018 and a residency at the Foundation AVL Mundo in Rotterdam in 2019, says he feels a strong connection to both countries.

“When I'm here in South Africa I think about life in the Netherlands, and when in the Netherlands I think about life in South Africa. Both countries are loaded in terms of their histories and politics, so learning about the two is like ongoing research,” he says

He says his choice to work in the medium of collage paintings centres around his obsession of telling stories. “My wish is to make an audience feel that their spirit and experiences exists in my collage paintings,” he says.

After finishing the artworks for this exhibition, Matloga said he decided to take a step back and reflect on all that is happening.

He says he’s experienced the global pandemic we currently find ourselves in to be a mental burden that’s slowing down his creative process.

“I've had to deal with major adjustments in life outside my safe haven – the studio – like everyone else.”

While he has planned group shows in South Africa and Europe for the rest of the year, whether these exhibitions will continue remains to be seen. “I honestly don't know what will happen,” says the artist – a sentiment many share right now.

Back of the Moon is currently on show at the Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg until 22 August.

The gallery is open by appointment, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and on Saturday from 10am to 1pm.

For more information, visit stevenson.info.

Neo Matloga's Mamazala ka di potsotso.
Neo Matloga's Mamazala ka di potsotso.
Image: Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg Photography: Nina Lieska

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