Feni Chulumanco. Behind the Walls

Feni Chulumanco, Igumbi Elitsha (New Room), 2022. Acrylic on Canvas, cm. 360x150 (3 panels - 120x150 cm. each). Courtesy Osart Gallery and the artist I Ph. Max Pescio


From 26 Gennaio 2023 to 11 Marzo 2023


Place: Osart Gallery

Address: Corso Plebisciti 12

Times: Mar – Sab 10-13 / 14:30-19


E-Mail info: info@osartgallery.com

Official site: http://www.osartgallery.com

Osart Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Feni Chulumanco's Behind the Walls, the first Italian solo show of the South African artist (b. 1994), with a new body of works that embrace his most iconic themes and values, that have already made him quite popular in his country. This young, self-taught artist tells a story of pride and isolation, in which he aims to escape his own “dis-comfort zone”, represented both by the glass case in which all his subjects are encapsulated, and the walls of the domestic settings where his scenes are set.
The house context assumes in fact a double connotation, where the traditional role of cozy shelter of love is opposed to its actual function – in the case of Chulumanco's personal experience – of safe house, a sort of panic room which prevents those dangers and threats spreading in the streets from breaking in. In this sense, Chulumanco chooses to describe the private sphere rather than shedding a light on the unfortunate events which are commonplace in South Africa, giving viewers a sense of universal feeling, and letting them see what's behind the walls.
In his paintings, references from his childhood and youth are overwhelming, with every single detail recalling an experience, or a character that had an important role on the artist's personal and artistic growth. The indoor settings are in fact inspired by memories of his late grandmother's house in Langa, where Chulumanco moved with his mother and siblings at a very young age. Carpets and plants are mixed with his subjects, caught while busy with house chores or cuddling - as in Umthetho Wekhaya, or depicted in daily activities (Night Food/Supper).
All of Chulumanco's subjects are faceless. This feature is sometimes very ironically counterbalanced by the presence of a smiling self-portrait hanging on the wall of the rooms where the scenes are set. The lack of facial features are both a reference of the style of West African masks, but also a representation of the artist's lonesome, a lifelong companion embodied by the “glass womb” that rocks and protects like a motherly presence, but also nortures and empowers its creatures. Feni Chulumanco was born in South Africa and moved with his family to Langa Township in Cape Town at a young age. Whilst studying at Isilimela Comprehensive High School he met Miss Nkunzi, the Art, Culture and Design teacher who encouraged him to pursue his evident skill and passion for the arts. In 2014 Chulumanco met the artist Ayanda Mabulu at Greatmore Studios. This significant encounter led to him being mentored by Mabulu as well as interacting with a wide variety of established artists at Greatmore. In his paintings Chulumanco focuses on the depleted human figure, encasing them in glass boxes contextualising the idea of individualism. Inspired by his own individual journey and personal growth, Chulumanco takes the viewer on a rich visual journey allowing one to focus on our own identity, self worth and sense of fulfilment.
His latest solo shows include Imiyalelo (2022) at EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa. Group shows include 8X8 (2021), EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa; Home is Where the Art is (2020), Zeitz Mocaa Museum, Cape Town, South Africa. His residencies include: 2018 Ruth Prowse School of Art, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa; 2019 Greatmore Studios Trust, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa.