Surrealist painter Blessing Ngobeni uses his brush and paint to explore the idea of how western-acquired tastes such as the love of material things have subverted Africans’ values that were essentially based on the philosophy of ubuntu. Added to this, the desire for and love of power by African politicians, chiefs and kings has distorted Africans’ identities to the point that many people have resorted to wearing masks to hide who they really are, Ngobeni believes. His latest exhibition, Masked Reality, which is on at Circa Gallery in Johannesburg, is pregnant with these politically charged narratives. It seeks to unmask a typical contemporary African — citizens and politicians. Essentially, a painter who cleverly fuses spiritual insights and self-actualisation in his work, in Masked Reality, Ngobeni is also experimenting with other media such as installation in addition to painting, and the results are devastatingly delightful. Using mainly vivid colours and thick layers of paint, t...

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