previews

Madrid

Zwelethu Mthethwa

Fundacíon Mapfre | Recoletos
Paseo de Recoletos 23
December 12 - February 23

Curated by Nadia Arroyo Arce

Zwelethu Mthethwa’s signature formal preferences—riotous saturated color and grand scale—have always implied a rejection of the rigid black-and-white documentary aesthetic that dominated apartheid-era South African art. This December, a much- anticipated retrospective of the Cape Town–based artist’s photo and video work will go on view at the Fundación MAPFRE, showcasing seventy-five of his works from 1985 to 2012. Included in this selection will be his breakthrough 1995–2005 “Interiors” series, which, gainsaying its title’s promise, appears to invite privileged access into its subjects’ private realms only to foreclose any degree of real intimacy. Meanwhile, two series from 2008, “Brick Workers”and “Coal Miners,” will offer similar exercises in ambivalence and withholding, suggesting that Mthethwa’s portraiture, like the medium he employs to create it, is most affecting when it strays from the mandates of its genre.