The present lot was exhibited in 2005 in Mustafa Maluka’s solo presentation Accented Living (a rough guide), which comprised head-and- shoulders portraits of people the artist describes as ‘invented heroes’, interspersed with abstract canvases drawing strongly on the hip-hop aesthetic. Maluka sources images from magazines, looking out for characters who ‘speak’ to him in some way, and then translates these images, using multiple layers of paint, into iconic figures of ‘people I would like to look up to’, he says.1
The title of the exhibition intends to “situate these individuals in today’s globalised world, which is characterised by large-scale displacement and relocation. Maluka is drawing on the notion of ‘accented cultures’, accents being distinctive modes of expression that convey the characteristics of different regions and classes, and are only noticed once the speaker leaves his or her home territory. Accents are thus markers of belonging and not belonging, and ‘accented living’ evokes in particular the postcolonial experiences of exile and the diaspora. In the immediate context, the exhibition Accented Living presents South African audiences with a ‘rough guide’ to the unknown terrain that Maluka’s work has become during his six-year absence and his return home” in 2004.2
Michael Stevenson, Cape Town, Mustafa Maluka: Accented Living (a rough guide), 8 June to 9 July, 2005.