Clifford Charles’s evocative ink drawings, titled Paintings on Water, are reflections upon the social and political reality of contemporary South Africa. His works on paper chart new visual and physical spaces post-apartheid. Black ink flows unevenly across the surface of white paper, dense and impenetrable in some areas, in other areas staining the paper only lightly, at times almost transparent.
Author and playwright, Bheki Peterson, describes these works as ‘provocatively ingenious responses to South Africa’s altered states…a thoughtful and humorous displacement of whiteness with the intricacies of blackness’. Charles’s work bears witness to the slippage, multiple layers and forgetfulness in the lived experience of postcolonial Africa.
The first black student to graduate with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Witwatersrand, during apartheid South Africa, Charles now works and lives in Johannesburg. One of the earliest members of the Afrika Cultural Centre, he also worked for fifteen years as an ‘artist/activist’ in unions, hospitals, youth groups and other social institutions. He exhibited in the 2003 Venice Biennale and his work is held by the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the University of South Africa and numerous corporate collections.
Clifford Charles is shown as part of Africa 05 and inIVA’s Atlas season of exhibitions and events that map ideas and experiences largely drawn from uncharted territory.