Gauteng-based artist Serge Alain Nitegeka’s new solo exhibition at Stevenson gallery in Joburg is an in-depth exploration of the colour black. ‘Black is a colour reserved unto itself. It is comfortable in its own nature, unruffled and confident. It tries very hard to stay anonymous but inquiring eyes are drawn to it; spectators cannot resist it. It is not popular. It reveals little because it is neither warm nor cold. It is an enigmatic pigment,’ he says.
Named Ode to Black, the exhibition comprises free-standing sculptures and painted wall panels filled with structured lines and boldly oscillating colours. Studies in contained disruption, each work presents a fractured landscape and a fragile subject within. The subject has to move and struggle through disorientating spaces, such as lengths of wood twisted into tension with other components or confounding colour palettes.
In the past, the Burundi-born artist’s work has dealt with themes such as xenophobia and forced migration. Exploring the colour black for his new body of work, Nitegeka discovers its many meanings. He says: ‘Black is the colour of mourning and melancholy. Black epitomises stealth; it is central to clandestine ventures and cool lonesomeness. Black is the colour of executive cars, gadgets, accessories and clothing. Eternally beautiful, black is the colour of the universe, the infinite deep, dark, unknown abyss. Black is a wormhole, mysterious and ever-receding, absorbing everything around it and revealing nothing. Black is all colours mixed together, perhaps the sum of the visible. Black is the only colour without light, though full and empty.’ Black presents itself ambiguously in meaning, like the abstract forms in his practice.
See Ode to Black at Stevenson gallery, Johannesburg, until 30 June 2017. For more beautiful black designs, get your copy of the #HLBWIssue – in stores and online now.