BAMPFA’s new Art Wall presentation features a commissioned work by Karabo Poppy Moletsane, a street artist and designer from Johannesburg, South Africa. Moletsane is known for a strikingly vibrant figurative style that draws on diverse sources, from traditional African patterns and colors to science fiction. Her piece for the Art Wall features a group of monumentally scaled portraits based on people she met on the streets of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
“My creative process,” Moletsane writes, “always begins with taking my camera and walking around the city to photograph great representations of contemporary Africa/South Africa. That often involves taking portraits. What draws me to the people I photograph often has to do with their hairstyles, fashion choices, and occupations that are iconically South African.”
Moletsane attributes some aspects of her imagery—for example the ray-like beams emanating from one figure’s eyes—to Afrofuturism, a cultural genre that imbues futuristic imaginings with themes and imagery derived from African or diasporic experience. She aims to convey a positive sense of an African future and embellishes her work with optimistic symbols such as halos, which, she says, “add an air of importance, genius, divine inspiration that I wish to highlight and celebrate about the figures I draw.”
This is Moletsane’s first museum exhibition in the United States.