Meleko Mokgosi (born in Francistown, Botswana) is an artist who works within an interdisciplinary framework to create large-scale project-based installations. Mokgosi works across history painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory. His studio program interrogates narrative tropes and the fundamental models for the inscription and transmission of history along side established European notions of representation in order to address questions of nationhood, anti-colonial sentiments, and the perception of historicized events. His artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Botswana National Gallery, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, the Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Culture Center, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Lyon Museum of Contemporary Art.
Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY
Artist in Residence
University of California in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Master of Fine Art, Interdisciplinary Studio Program
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY
Independent Study Program (Studio)
Slade School Of Fine Art, London, England
Williams College, Williamstown, MA
Bachelor of Arts, Studio Art
Meleko Mokgosi uses painting to interrogate the very concerns that inform its death drive: the limits of representation, the politics of abstraction, and the mode of viewing enabled by rectangular canvases on a gallery wall. The artist’s technical acuity delivers a kind of critical visuality, asking viewers to draw out affinities between experiencing and interpreting. Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu (2012) addresses the question of nationalism in relation to globalization and resistance. The work meditates on sikhuselo sembumbulu, a Xhosa term meaning “bulletproof.” This is a reference to the Xhosa cattle killings of 1856–57, which were intended to drive away colonial powers and simultaneously resurrect ancestors. The series of works frames the historic event and considers a legacy of resistance that continues today—namely, the persistent drive to become bulletproof. At the same time this history is represented as only partially available to viewers, suggesting the difficulty of cultural translation.
- Malik Gaines