Meleko Mokgosi exhibits his “Current 12” on Botswana Day

On Botswana Day, 30 September, Botswana’s art export to America, Meleko Mokgosi, staged an exhibition called “Current 12” that features new paintings from his latest series styled Spaces of Subjection.

Opening at the Saint Louis Art Museum in Washington, Mokgosi’s new project explores the notion of space as a metaphor, theoretical device and social construct in order to question conventional ideas of what it means to be a subject.

Spaces of Subjection
He takes the concept of subjection from French philosopher Michel Foucault’s writings of the 1980s. In essays like The Subject and Power (1981 – 1982), Foucault contended that networks of social, political and historical forces enact a form of subjugation that produces subjecthood.

These later writings of Foucault also examine what a form of subject construction independent from these networks of social and historical relations might look like. Like Foucault, Mokgosi uses the concept of subjection to identify the processes of becoming subordinated by power as well as of becoming a subject.

Currents 122: Meleko Mokgosi is curated by Hannah Klemm, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, and Molly Moog, research assistant for modern and contemporary art. The exhibition is supported in part by the Henry L. and Natalie E. Freund Endowment Fund.

Mokgosi’s work
Mokgosi creates large-scale, figurative, and often text-based paintings, drawing from the tropes of history painting and cinema to probe systems of knowledge production, the politics of representation, and the histories of democracy in conjunction with African liberation movements.

His photorealistic paintings are also deeply rooted in critical theory, post-colonial studies, and research-based practices.