Monday, August 29, 2011


Solo Show Examines South African Man’s Transitory Life Stages With Drawings, Film

Paul Emmanuel: Transitions

WHEN: Thursday, Sept. 8–Sunday, Oct. 2, opening reception will be held on Friday, Sept. 9 from 5–7 PM, followed by an artist talk in Falvey Hall from 7–9 PM.
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA, Brown Center’s Rosenberg Gallery, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore

A touring solo exhibition by the South African artist explores how the military has influenced and perpetuated notions of masculinity in his native country. Emmanuel’s works will welcome viewers to meditate on transitory life stages, stimulate thoughts on patriarchy and pose questions around perceptions of masculinity, the passage of time and the human condition.


The show comprises a series of five “photographic” works which, when examined closely, are revealed to be sensitively hand-drawn, photo-realist sequences of images. These film-like progressions obsessively capture moments of five transitory stages in life. They depict unidentifiable male subjects of various ages, sometimes in traditional institutions like the military, as well as religious and secular institutions, which have shaped the way in which the male identity has been defined. A sixth work titled 3SAI: A Rite of Passage, a 14-minute film produced by the artist, documents the head shaving of new recruits at the Third South African Infantry Battalion (3–SAI) in Kimberley. This is one of two South African military training camps that still performs the obligatory hair shaving of army recruits when they join the South African National Defense Force. During South Africa’s Apartheid era, obligatory head shaving was an enforced rite of passage for thousands of white male conscripts.

The exhibition premiered at The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg in 2008, has toured throughout South Africa and was showcased at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., in 2010. Emmanuel’s film has been featured at the 39th annual International Film Festival in The Netherlands and the Design Indaba Expo National Film Festival in South Africa, to name a few, and in 2009, was unanimously selected as the winner by an international jury at the Africa in Motion Film Festival, Edinburgh. In phase two of this project, Emmanuel is producing a hand-drawn, hand-printed lithographic series with images based on Transitions’ concepts. Five triptychs (three images each) are scheduled to be created by the end of 2011. The book, The Transitions Project, documents the exhibition project as a whole. Art Source South Africa is the project manager for all aspects of Transitions.

Images: Paul Emmanuel-original drawings, hand incised on exposed and processed color photographic paper, 2005–2008. Courtesy Spier Contemporary Collection Images: Art Source South Africa (all images).