Gallery 1957 is proud to present a new solo exhibition by Cape Town-based artist Nabeeha Mohamed titled Tending Bell Flowers. The show, which is Mohamed’s first body of work to be shown at the gallery’s London space after her 2022 solo presentation in Accra, sees her turning towards a poetics and aesthetics of tending.
In this body of work “tending” becomes a sight of individual and collective tenderness, in a blossoming visual garden springing from a poetics and imagining of care and (self)recovery.
Consisting of paintings and sculptural works, Mohamed’s exhibition feels like an evocative visual call to action towards self-care and self-preservation through flower arrangements and self-portraits, sculptures of elongated surreal high-heels and landscape paintings.
As Mohamed explains: ‘The idea of ‘tending’ was something that came up in my last body of work: I was building this language of sculpturally creating these flowers and I mean, I've done it in other things not only my flowers, but it’s the flowers that I feel have really come alive in that language. I felt like a gardener or like I was cultivating these flowers. Imagined and not, they’ve always kind of spawned from something I see but they become their own thing as I’m building them… And so, I think that the notion of ‘tending’ came to me in the same way as when you are cultivating or when you are gardening. It’s quite a gentle and slow process. There's love and care that goes into it.”
The array of landscape paintings sees her returning to Boschenheuvel Arboretum, a site less than a kilometre from where she grew up, subject of a historic land claim by some of the original landowners who were removed during Apartheid in South Africa.
This time, however, the significance of Boschenheuvel Arboretum in the visual topography of her new exhibition has shifted from histories and politics of displacement, ‘home’ and inequality, to evoke a pastoral aesthetic and sentiment, one that signals towards rest, slowing it down, coming up for air, catching your breath.
Looking at the material surface of the landscape paintings, brought to life by Mohamed’s bold and expressive paint application and the vibrancy of her colours, what ebbs at the centre is an interrogation of a revolutionary and radical poetics of rest and care within a social matrix that equates productivity to worth. In communion the portraits could be read as piecing together a space of ontological possibilities where it is possible to recover one’s subjectivity through care and rest.
Tending Bell Flowers is accompanied by a critical essay by Lindi Mngxitama.