Abena Motaboli

Cosmic Reality
mixed media on stretched canvas
36 x 104 in.

Most of my artworks take on a narrative yet investigative form touching on themes of deterioration, trauma, deconstruction of human character and relationships, the self, and my past memories. At the foundation of it all is my home country Lesotho, and Southern African culture.

I am quick to make a mark and enjoy manipulating surfaces with ephemeral material such as tea, dirt, coffee, tissue, or charcoal. These mediums draw on my innate desire to connect with organic and found material, which are widely used to make things in my culture. The tea comments on a country marked by its colonialist history. I enjoy the impermanence of media and the idea that like humans, everything is bound to expire hence the unstable material, liquid stains or free flowing canvas.

I constantly play around with the idea of being an immigrant in another country, which lends itself to a feeling of unawareness, insight, and belonging. I am also intrigued with the idea of displacement, whether it is the idea of not belonging, or moving freely across territories and this comes out in the investigative nature of the material and mark making.

Whilst working I am influenced by the dynamic between hope and destruction. Growing up in the post apartheid era in a country colonized by the British and seeing how toxic human relations can be toward one another, emphasized human resiliency. While this does not affect my artwork directly, it affects how I think. Destruction is an inevitable part of the human condition, and like fabric, it weaves us through a common human experience. The work then comments on how our generation should be terrified of the deterioration of the place we live in, socially and environmentally.

© Abena Motaboli