Power and the City: Pat Mautloa explores the city in his new solo exhibition ‘Urban Soundscapes – Crafting Spaces of Belonging’ at the UJ Art Gallery.
The UJ Art Gallery proudly presents Kagiso “Pat” Mautloa’s new solo exhibition, ‘Urban Soundscapes – Crafting Spaces of Belonging’, curated by UJ Art Gallery curator Thabo Seshoka. Set to open on 6 August and run till 30 October, ‘Urban Soundscapes’ is inspired by ordinary life in urban spaces explored through the lens of the socio-political.
“Kagiso “Pat” Mautloa, has the distinctive ability to capture and communicate the complexities of everyday life in urban spaces. Through his unique process of incorporating ordinary and discarded objects into his artworks thus, revitalising their sense of meaning, purpose, and existence. These objects, likened to the multiple figures that reside within the city, serve as inspirations for Mautloa’s body of work, which interrogates the social issues that plague individuals within urban settings, and their ability to create or renew their senses of existence,” says Thabo Seshoka, Curator UJ Art Gallery.
Describing urban spaces as “imagined temporal worlds that are engulfed by the socio-political” [where] “a multitude of people reside and where none originate from” [the curator, through Mautloa’s lens] looks to “the shadowy figures that fuel the hustle and bustle of the city; an omnipotent machine, consumed by the notion of power and authority over others”. His interest lies in the “battle is waged amongst these shadowy figures” who “operate within a regulated structure, maintained, and guarded by ‘official’ and ‘un-official’ custodians, who have or continue to benefit from the old ways of order. He explores their desire to question belonging and reluctance to relinquish their control of the city’s machinery.
Recognised as a pioneer of modernist painting in South Africa, Mautloa’s central theme in his work is the study of life around him. Through his work he regularly visits these urban spaces in painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking. Drawn in bright colour and with texture, Mautloa makes innovative use of found objects – often discarded refuse found in these urban spaces – and abstract textures and mundane surfaces.
Through a series of new works in various forms and mediums, this exhibition, offers Mautloa’s audience a “well composed symphony of urban life”, documenting the beats and rhythms of these imagined worlds and the figures that reside within them.
“Complimented by a curatorial process that was centred around unpacking the notions of identity, belonging and subjugation within urban spaces. This exhibition, and the selected artworks, this show explores how individuals create a sense of identity and belonging within the confines of unequal power relations, where some individuals benefit from their subjugation,” concludes Seshoka.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
About UJ Arts & Culture
UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.
In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.
 Makhubu, N. 2008. “The “other” Africans: re-examining representations of sexuality in the work of Nicholas Hlobo and Zanele Muholi”. MA Thesis. Grahamstown: Rhodes University.
 Vandeyar, S. 2013. “Youthscapes: the politics of belonging for ‘Makwerekwere’ youth in South African schools” Citizenship Studies. 17 (4): 447 – 463.
Appadurai, A. 1996. Modernity at large: cultural dimensions of globalisation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
 Seshoka. T. 2017. Intimate Strangers – Encountering the Foreign in Urban Spaces. Port Elizabeth. Nelson Mandela University.