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URBAN JUNGLE
Birame Ndiaye and Wayne Barker

Urban Jungle brings together two prominent artists from the continent; Birame Ndiaye from Dakar, Senegal, and Wayne Barker from Johannesburg, South Africa. They first met in 2003 when Birame Ndiaye was enjoying a three months residency at the Bag Factory in Fordsburg and “recognized each others” like brothers from another mother. Both painters are children of the African city and its collision of cultures. They get down and dirty in the streets, sometimes the back alleys, and venture into the craziness and confusion of the concrete jungle.

From scum to beauty, from despair to hope, they lay an uncompromising eye on the blurring of identities, the urban fever where art meets life. Both artists feed on the ever invading medias, the profusion of neon signs and billboards, the writings on the wall and the unlimited impressions of faces. They are not only social commentators, but dedicated troublemakers who give the punches back.

Wayne Barker is a famous figure of Johannesburg’s landscape with his over-the-top interventions and maverick paintings and installations, often using ready-mades from the street. Barker is passionate about issues of commodification, appropriation and alienation in the colonial space, mixing autobiographical memories, fragments of life in Africa today and elements of historic significance. Ultimately, Barker is a flamboyant lover and his works inspire a strong sense of life, power and sizzling beauty.

Birame Ndiaye equally turns up the heat on the relentless cultural imperialism in the contemporary African urban and political environment. During his daily walks around the streets of Dakar he visually captures the graffiti and murals, the press cuts, the troubled behaviors and the everyday contradictions which find their way in his layered paintings. He shows the bruising of our world and how we revolt for personal and collective freedom. It is social representation at its best and a strong reminder of the trying hardship of being an African in the global world, starting with the difficulty of traveling or getting a visa.

In this new version of Rumble in the Jungle, the two protagonists raise a conscious voice from a continent where the value of life is still irrelevant in such an obscene world. Our choir boys are in for some trouble in Paradise. Barker and Ndiaye are superb and accomplished artists, the kind we love to hate and who reach icon status when they are dead.

17 February – 11 March 2006

Prisoners in the Street 1, mixed-media on canvas, 2003

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