Levitation is is a spiritual subject that goes beyond the five senses. It goes beyond what is usual, invoking the surrounding energy that can only be activated through media practices, experience, illusions and to some beliefs. It is the power in which objects are held aloft without mechanical support in a stable position. I believe that as humans we have the capability of going beyond the laws of nature when pushed or pushing to some limit. This can even result into some magical entity. It’s easiest for me to explain what I mean by this in visual terms – through my paintings – rather than explain this experience in words.
I have simply tried to express through my art the way that the body is capable of occupying itself in space. The body and the body of work is what matters to me here. The works are energetic, direct and in some cases show the relationship and balance between objects and humans, and the relationship between these in terms of energy
In this exhibition I have focused on developing an experimental way of making art and using my materials in an innovative and perhaps unexpected way. It is not my intention to explain things fully as much as open up these ideas to feeling and interpretation while viewing my work.
Definace of Gravity
To levitate is to perform the seemingly impossible. We are all familiar with the magician’s trick: the conjurer suspends themself or someone else in mid-air, defying the laws of gravity to the applause and shock of all who see it, whether it be on the street or the stage. But we all know that is a trick and after the first wave of amazement and bewilderment has passed, we ask ‘how was it done?’
I think that Restone Maambo is not offering us some sort of hackneyed ‘trick’ in this exhibition but rather posing a powerful possibility to us: that we can actually defy seemingly immutable physical laws of nature by means of techniques that are embedded in the spiritual, emotional and psychic realm. When he drops his paintbrush accidentally I don’t think he believes he can have it whisk back into his hand through sheer force of mind; rather he bends down to pick it up. His defiance of nature is not to be found in some cheap parlour trick but rather in a deep belief and commitment to the idea that we, as humans, can escape our immediate context and perform the seemingly impossible. We can transcend our given existence and, as the saying goes, ‘reach for the stars’. (Or perhaps, more modestly, just elevate ourselves above our immediate situation.)
Painting has often been likened to magic or alchemy and indeed artists are constantly trying to defy the physical laws of the materials that they work with. Beyond this, in the hands of an artist like Maambo, pigments, paper scraps and fabric are made to do things – say things – that without the artist’s intervention would leave them as mute, dumb objects. The works in this exhibition converse with us, tease us, call to the viewer and demand a response. This is an act that puts the street magician’s trick to shame even though it too causes us to ask ourselves ‘how does he do it?’
In these paintings we see a careful interplay between objects and people; between space and identity; and between the physical realm and that of the spirit. Through force of concentration, with the application of his mind and his materials, and finally via painterly skill that has been practised long and hard, Restone Maambo has done the seemingly impossible: he has defied the realm of the ordinary, the explicable and the mundane. In front of his paintings we are offered the possibility to float away from our current existence and enter into a deeper communion with him, the artist and with his subjects portrayed on the canvas. This, I would offer, is magical.
When the astronaut makes a spacewalk and floats towards a wayward satellite orbiting earth it is neither an impossible act nor does it run counter to Newton’s laws. Having broken the hold of earth’s gravitational pull other forces are at play and out in space the astronaut is seen to levitate. In its way, this is something that could be described metaphorically as ‘magical’ but the laws of gravity are still operating. What has changed is the context in which gravity operates. The artist, in this exhibition, offers us a similar opportunity for defiance and a space to float free and at will should we take up his offer and engage with it.
written by Andrew Lamprecht