Meleko Mokgosi (born in Francistown, Botswana; lives and works in New York, NY) is an artist, Associate Professor at the Yale School of Art, and co-director of the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program (https://www.artandtheoryprogram.org). He received his BA from Williams College in 2007 and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study program from 2007-2008. Mokgosi received his MFA from the Interdisciplinary Studio Program at the University of California Los Angeles in 2011. He participated in the Rauschenberg Residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Captiva, FL in 2015 and the Artist in Residence Program at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY in 2012. By working across history painting, cinematic tropes, psychoanalysis, and post-colonial theory, Mokgosi creates large-scale project-based installations that interrogate narrative tropes and the fundamental models for the inscription and transmission of history. In 2018 he co-founded the Interdisciplinary Art and Theory Program in New York City. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at venues such as Jack Shainman Gallery, New York City; Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town and Johannesburg; Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles; Perez Art Museum Miami (2020); The Smart Museum of Art (2019); University of Michigan Museum of Art (2019); Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore (2018); The Fowler Museum at UCLA (2018); Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown (2017) Rochester Contemporary Art Center (2017); The University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery (2017); and Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2015).
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