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Friday, June 21, 2013

Joseph Bertiers and "The True Lier"

The True Lier  | Joseph Bertiers | 2013 | Oil on canvas | 90 x 100cm 
When I  first visited Joseph Bertiers in Nairobi we had met by the main Dagoretti  road and drove together towards his house – I had no idea what to expect and was greeted by a walled compound with a large smart looking gate – we paused outside  as Bertiers gestured to what look like an “askari” (a guard) just visible inside.  The guard  turned out to be one of Bertiers’ many life-sized scrap metal sculptures that adorn his garden. This was the first of many jokes. Even his name is a joke. He renamed himself Bertiers from the original Mbatia to see if having a European name would  boost his art sales – it did apparently – though that was in another era. Perhaps he should change it back?  But that wouldn’t be funny – so he wont.
The painting you see here is a rollocking expose of a type of corrupt and venal pastor that plagues the African continent and many other parts of the globe. This painting was inspired by revelations about the Fire Gospel Ministry in Kenya where a pastor had been caught paying women to fake illness so that they could be miraculously cured. Bertiers depicts the realities of sexual harassment and the sheer lies and  hypocrisy peddled by these “true liers”.
In the words of the artist:
The time has come for people to realize that they are
conned, cheated and given no spiritual healing at all.  Although they take their  time, these people who pretend to be spiritually superior to their congregations enrich themselves through the poor exploiting the fact that  religion is the opium of the people,  as Karl Marx the philosopher said.
Bertiers is an increasingly successful and acclaimed artist. His work was recently featured in the Financial Times and his work  is in several major collections in Europe and the U.S.A..

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mário Macilau and the Price of Cement

The Price of Cement is a series of photographs by the young and acclaimed Mozambican photographer Mário Macilau. The works  show the tragic reality of  young boys and girls who work in illegal cement bagging operations in Mozambique in darkened buildings, hidden from view, recycling/cutting cement from cement spillages with disastrous consequences for their health. The images that ironically and intuitively reference the world of mime and fashion speak devastatingly for  themselves. The empowerment of his subjects to tell their stories with dignity is central to Macilau’s important work. 
                                                                Untitled (The Price of Cement) 5 C-Print 2013 Editions of 6 

Mário Macilau

B.1984 in  Maputo, Mozambique  where he lives and works 
Mário Macilau was born in the newly independent Mozambique, in the midst of the most critical phase of its civil war. His family struggled financially and moved from the Inhambane province to the capital, Maputo, in search of a better life. When he was 10 years old he began to work in a small market frequented by the middle / upper class where he became a street child, washing cars in the car park and helping to carry the groceries in an effort to support his family.
Macilau started his journey as photographer in 2003 and went  professional  when he traded his mother’s cell phone for his first camera in 2007, he specializes in long-term projects that focus on living and environmental conditions. As a documentary photographer he is committed to initiating positive change across different cultures, locations and perspectives, in his home country he uses his work to confront the reality  of power, environment and cultural heritage that affect  socially isolated groups and issues that define our times.
Macilau  shows his work regularly in national and international exhibitions  and recently he has been included at the Pan African group exhibition during the Biennale of African Photography in Bamako 2011 where he won the Crossing Point residency  in France at Les Rencontres D'arles in 2012 from Fondation Blachère. He was a finalist for the  7th edition of BESphoto 2011 in Portugal where his work has been shown at CCB - Centro Cultural de Belém. In Brazil he has exhibited at Pinacoteca de Estado de Sao Paulo. In 2011, he exhibited at VI Chobi Mela Photo Festival in Bangladesh 2011, the Photo Spring in Beijing, China 2011, Lagos Photo I and II in Nigeria, The KLM in Malasya among others. 
Macilau has won many national and international  awards including  the Young ACP Photographer’s Competition in 2010, the Visa Pour La Creation 2012 from the French Institute, The first prize from the Protection Project in Washington DC 2012, the EVTZ Foundation prize in Germany, the Santa Lucia Award in Spain 2011, the AECID Award for creation in 2011, he won the talent prize from France Embassy in Maputo in 2011, the TDM Bienal in Maputo ... Mário Macilau regularly attends the Annual Photography Master Class  in Africa organized by Goethe Institute, Johannesburg.
Mário Macilau was recently featured on Al Jazeera’s Artscape programme in May 2013 
For enquiries about Mario Macilau’s work please contact: 
Ed Cross +44 (0) 7507067567