Francisco Vidal: Workshop Maianga Mutamba

13 November - 19 December 2015

Tiwani Contemporary is pleased to announce Workshop Maianga Mutamba, an exhibition of new works by Francisco Vidal. This will be Vidal’s first solo exhibition in the UK, following an exhibition and residency at Tiwani Contemporary in July by e-studio Luanda, a Luanda-based artist collective, project space and studio complex co-founded by Vidal. The artist is also part of the official selection for the Angolan Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.

Workshop Maianga Mutamba (named after two neighbourhoods of the Angolan capital) is derived from the artist’s practical working methodology, which considers the notion of the artist as a machine and the studio as a workshop, and advocates machine-based mass production as the means of creating a better world. The exhibition includes Vidal’s machete paintings, an ongoing series in which he paints vividly coloured cotton flowers directly onto metal machetes similar to those traditionally used to harvest the cotton plant. The series refers to the Baixa de Cassanje, a bloody episode in Angola’s tumultuous road towards political emancipation and independence from Portuguese colonial rule.

In 1961, an uprising led by the agricultural workers of a Portuguese-Belgian cotton plantation in Malanje was violently suppressed by the Portuguese authorities. The event, which started as a workers' protest for better working conditions, is now considered the first battle of the Angolan war of independence, and forms the core of Vidal’s reflection around workers' struggles, political dissent and the spirit of social revolution.

The exhibition also showcases new paintings, works on paper, and a large screenprint and stencil installation based on depictions of the ubiquitous cotton flower in various patterns and colour gradations. In the works on paper, an abstracted version of the motif is barely visible, buried under blocks of bright colours and intertwined with calligraphic black lines delineating bold faces and the word, or exclamation, 'FREE'. Condensed into a visual intersection of colours, words and lines, this imagery emphasises notions of movement and flexibility, suggesting multiple influences (such as graffiti and graphic novels) while showcasing the artist's exuberantly colourful, neo-expressionist style.