Made In L.A. is coming to the Hammer, Barnsdall Park, LAXART, and billboards around town on June 2 and will showcase sixty emerging, under-recognized Los Angeles artists–one of which will be voted to win a $100,000 prize. In order to help you make an educated vote this summer, we’re counting down to Made In L.A. by showcasing each artist participating in the biennial.
Meleko Mokgosi is a visual artist who creates large paintings and collages that focus in and around Africa.
Mokgosi is a Motswana artist whose work surrounds conflict and crisis in Africa from Zimbabwe to Sudan to Botswana. His work confronts the issues in these countries in his creating large, politically charged paintings that display issues and problems with people, from how they are being abused to how they are being taken advantage of. The paintings often utilize negative space and deep colors to portray the environment and, respectively, the persons in his work. His paintings give you just enough information you need to see what is going on. He very often doesn’t provide you with a background or location or even props for these persons: what they have is irrelevant–it’s what they are doing. In an interview he did years ago for The Williams Record, he addressed his art as seeking to make the problems in Africa real to his viewer to show that, yes, this is something that is going on and is something you need to pay attention to.
This is quite apparent in his work. There are large paintings of scenes between soldiers and villagers under close watch or negotiations underway by politicians as servants await them. This all draws from real life imagery too: nothing in his work is imagined or faked–there’s a truth to everything. “Everything I do comes from source material. I don’t like inventing stuff. I like things that come from a concrete place–and geographically specific,” he explained in his statement for The Bearden Project this past year.
Mokgosi is a recent UCLA MFA recipient who came out of the same remarkable group as Math Bass, Dashiell Manley, and Ryan Slugget, artists who are also participating in Made In L.A.. His work stands with a handful of others in the show that deal with crisis and heritage, specifically seeking to raise awareness or consciousness of problems. His work is so elegant and powerful in a different way than his peers, though. Maybe it’s the use of negative space, which functions as a magnifying glass, or his portrayal of such innocent people: we don’t know. But, it’s great work. We’re expecting to see one of his giant paintings at the show, naturally.