Apr 21, 2024

La Cometa

What's Mine, What's Yours

Esther Mahlangu, Miguel Ángel Ríos and Justyna Kisielewicz

April 20 – June 15, 2024
Opening reception: Saturday, April 20, from 5 pm to 8 pm

La Cometa is delighted to announce “What’s Mine, What’s Yours,” a group exhibition that delves into the perspectives of three artists with distinct cultural backgrounds who have experienced colonialism from unique viewpoints: Dr. Esther Mahlangu (b. 1935), Miguel Ángel Ríos (b. 1943), and Justyna Kisielewicz (b. 1983). The show will be on view from Saturday, April 20, through Saturday, June 15, at the gallery’s location at 1015 NW 23 Street Unit 2 in Miami, FL.

In the Ndebele community of South Africa, women paint the exterior walls of houses with geometric patterns and elements that serve as a testament to the critical events in its inhabitants’ private and collective lives. These massive paintings, besides their decorative purpose, have also served as a means of cultural and symbolic resistance against the permanent colonization of their territory—an assertion of identity against a history of extermination, including struggles against Boer farmers, British expansion, and, finally, the apartheid regime.

Dr. Esther Mahlangu (South Africa, 1935) has dedicated her life to promoting and teaching this art form to the children of Mabhoko in Mpumalanga, her hometown. She has also translated the images into murals and canvases, thus entering the sphere of contemporary art and making her practice known worldwide through the channels of cultural capital. While respecting tradition, Mahlangu began by freehand painting the motifs and lines that would define the painting, applying colors based on natural pigments. However, the works featured in the exhibition come from her encounter with industrial production techniques. With acrylics, the possibilities of color multiplied, allowing her to define a broad palette that would continue to dominate her work and lead to recognition from a globalized audience.

Miguel Ángel Ríos’ (Argentina, 1943) maps reinterpret traditional cartographic representations. Through work deeply rooted in Latin America, Ríos encourages us to question predominant narratives and delve into the untold stories that have shaped our understanding of the Americas.

His creative process involves deconstructing the logical coherence and orientation of historical cartographic maps, interweaving indigenous tradition within the context of colonial cartography through reflexive rearrangements. He offers the viewer a tangible expression of the “encounter of two worlds,” where the historical blends with the cultural through storytelling. By “de-mapping” America, the artist reinvents cartography, prompting us to question and reimagine our understanding of history, exploring geographical landscapes and the intricate interaction between cultures, traditions, and ideologies.

Justyna Kieselewicz (Poland, 1983) stands at the forefront as a Polish artist whose oil paintings intertwine with small map embroideries. The underlying concept is that alongside the colonization and exploitation of land came the exploitation of people, followed by the emotional toll. Colonization not only brought about political and geographical modifications; the repercussions for the soul and mind triggered systems of human exploitation and devastating symbolic configurations.

Thus, the larger paintings represent the transition of the land, while the more minor works represent the emotional cost of those actions. Kisielewicz addresses these themes through the loss of paradise and freedom, expressed through nudity vs. concealment. The figures are dressed from head to toe in materials that conceal their true identity, and their faces, with fabric prints of wildcats and monkeys, only suggest their intentions. The symbols, scenes, and colors contain past, present, and future stories, depicting ongoing conquests, whether in wars, exploitation, gentrification, or globalization, where the conqueror almost always remains faceless.

Galeria La Cometa

About La Cometa

La Cometa is a project-based space designed to facilitate relationships between the viewer, the works of art, and the artists. Galería La Cometa was founded over 35 years ago to contribute to the development of the local art scene. Since then, the gallery has been an exhibition space whose mission focuses on the representation, promotion and dissemination of mainly Latin American artists, becoming one of the most influential artistic platforms in the region. Today, La Cometa has four offices in three countries: Colombia (Bogotá and Medellín), Spain (Madrid) and the USA (Miami). La Cometa is a project-based space designed to facilitate relationships between the viewer, the works of art, and the artists, through various expressions of contemporary art. In addition, the gallery’s program seeks to incorporate Latin American Modern Art references, which provide a fundamental context for contemporary artistic creation. The team at Galería La Cometa is proud to present these important projects so that we may align with our mission and exhibit the most influential Ibero-American Modern and Contemporary Art to the world.
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