Mustafa Maluka
Accented Living (a rough guide)

8 June - 9 July 2005

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Mustafa Maluka - the artist's first solo exhibition in South Africa in seven years. Born and currently based in Cape Town, Maluka made an immediate impact on the local art scene when he held his first solo shows in 1997 and 1998. He subsequently moved to Amsterdam for six years and studied at De Ateliers, a highly regarded postgraduate art institute. He exhibited extensively while in the Netherlands (in the United States, Europe, Asia and South America), and was awarded the annual Tollman prize for a young artist on his return to Cape Town in 2004.

Born in 1976, Maluka grew up on the Cape Flats and finds his stylistic roots in hip-hop music and graffiti. He has a particular interest in urban African youth and their relationship with hip-hop culture and technology (the subject of his research for the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, where he is a PhD candidate). His current body of paintings comprises 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.

The title of the exhibition, Accented Living (a rough guide), situates 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 addition to painting, Maluka works in digital media and runs the pioneering website www.africanhiphop.com. He has exhibited internationally, including the group show Personal affects: power and poetics in contemporary South African art at the Museum for African Art and the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York (2004); [R][R][F] 2004 XP at the National Museum of Contemporary Art/Kalinderu MediaLab, Bucharest, Romania, and other venues (2004); Guess who at the Stedelijk Museum Zwolle, the Netherlands (2003); the fourth Biennale of the Pan-African Circle of Artists, Nigeria (2002); and Portrait Africa at the House of World Cultures, Berlin (2000).

Click here to read an interview with Mustafa Maluka by Sophie Perryer.

Click here to view the web-based project Accented living.



Occasional harassment


I am not important,
my people are

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We built this city

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I will not be held back

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Nigga with an attitude

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Real people

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Diamonds aren't forever


They are not my people

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They say they donít know

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Is it my fault

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It's too late when we die


I live in a different world to theirs

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They pray for my downfall

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True story


I will be judged by their yardstick

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They look right through me

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Don't believe the hype



Why cry

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Keeping the faith

For more information contact +27 (0)21 421 2575 or fax +27 (0)21 421 2578 or email info@michaelstevenson.com.

© 2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.