When imagining flowers, politics is probably the last thing that comes to mind. Flower paintings are associated with affluent housewives and gentle oil paint brushes. But in his recent exhibition at Gallery Momo in Johannesburg, artist Khaya Witbooi presented a fresh take on the subject. Under the title History Begins with a Garden, he relocates flowers from their context as agents of escapism into hardcore reality. Probably the most dominant work in the exhibition is The Plant is a Flag. In a colourful mix of oil paint and spray-paint stencils, Witbooi depicts an astronaut with a plant in his hand. Around him, floating, is a surreal jamboree of pigs, a ship, statue, skull, an electric fence sign, a bird and, of course, flowers. What looks like a psychedelic collage is a fascinating history lesson, with a long list of footnotes on acid. The exhibition’s curator, Mariella Franzoni, explains: "The main character in the painting is Jan van Riebeeck, depicted as the first man on the moo...

Subscribe now to unlock this article.

Support BusinessLIVE’s award-winning journalism for R129 per month (digital access only).

There’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in SA. Our subscription packages now offer an ad-free experience for readers.

Cancel anytime.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.