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HOMECOMING (article first published : 2004-08-20)

Off the wall is what art patrons should expect from a collection of Gabi Ngcobo's first solo exhibition titled Homecoming opening on August 18 at artSPACE durban in Miller Street off Umgeni Road at 17h30.

“One could almost attribute the outcome of this collection from a series of audio interviews conducted by Jude Clark who is busy with her post graduate studies at the University of Wales. Urban Women's Movement is the banner under which these interviews were done,” says Faith KaManzi of the BAT Centre.

“Clark has met several times with young women who use art as a form of employment- dancers, poets like Bandile Gumbi who will be launching her debut book of poems, visual artist Yvette Dunn, journalists and others. These women (mostly of colour) were presented with an opportunity to share their experiences of surviving in a concrete jungle while pursuing revolutionary careers. The reactions of their families and societyto their chosen career, their different lifestyles of dating white men, smoking cigarettes in public, dreaded/ shaven/ancient hairstyles which are not the norm, where they stand as liberated women who create their identities through their own interpretetation, refusing to bow down to the well-tested expectations imposed by the patriarchs upon women.”

Gabi Ngcobo says that her exhibition looks at home as a place of lived experiences - a place of coming back, collecting and unpacking from her travels in Europe like Switzerland and in some parts of Africa like Zambia. She uses her paintings to unpack her ideas in her mind.

Her paintings are mostly portraits, confrontational. This exhibition is about "Urban reality, changes like hair - growing dreadlocks, cutting them, perms", she says, adding that "our hair is beautiful kept naturally but politics determines who is blacker than who through our hairstyles - finding freedom from cutting our dreads". To drive her point home about hair, Ngcobo has been collecting people's hair to construct images. She said one of the past issues her artwork will be confronting the history of hair.

Born in Umlazi Township some 20 years ago, Gabi was among the first students at Ogwini Comprehensive High School to study art. After matric, she went on to to study Fine Arts at Westville University now UKZN where she graduated with an Honours degree. She is a well-known figure on the KZN visual arts scene.

Contact Gabi on 082 743 2306 or 083 300 9804.




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