AGYU presents Botswanan artist, Meleko Mokgosi

Meleko Mokgosi, Spaces of Subjection: Imaging Imaginations I, 2022 (panel 1 and 2) © Meleko Mokgosi. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

From Jan. 20th until June 10th, the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU) will be presenting Meleko Mokgosi’s first solo show in Canada, Imaging Imaginations. Mokgosi’s work in this exhibition will explore the ways in which we see ourselves and how others may perceive us. 

Born in Botswana, Mokgosi is currently an artist and educator based in the US working as an associate professor at the Yale University’s School of Art.

Clara Halpern, assistant curator at the AGYU, speaks on what can be expected during the show, “Imaging Imaginations is a collection of works thoughtfully curated by my colleague, Felicia Mings. The exhibition, which showcases Mokgosi’s series Space of Subjection, foregrounds this new body of work that includes new large-scale figurative paintings, as well as intricate prints,” 

“I think spending time with the images and texts in this exhibition provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on the images encountered every day and the role they play in one’s perspective of self through time,” adds Halpern.

Her colleague Mings, a curator at the AGYU, has always had an interest in the artwork of Africa and the African diaspora, particularly modern and contemporary work.

“I’ve had a growing interest in Mokgosi’s work over the last few years. In his large-scale history paintings, he often incorporates image transfers of posters and photographs that are related to the histories of Southern Africa. I started to engage in Mokgosi’s work in 2019 through a catalogue essay for a previous project and was emailed to remain in dialogue with him. Fortunately, shortly after joining the AGYU there was an opportunity to work together,” says Mings.

According to the press release, “Mokgosi’s art often subverts conventions of European history painting—a genre popularized in the fifteenth century devoted to Eurocentric narratives of history, mythology, and religion—by privileging the depiction of daily life in Southern Africa and narratives of African and Black diasporic histories.”

While looking back on the programming at AGYU, Halpern notes that she “can see certain threads or themes that occur over time, but the program isn’t restricted to a set theme. I appreciate the diversity of subjects and perspectives that make up our program.”

On Thursday, January 19th, the AGYU will host an opening reception and artist conversation with Mokgosi from 6:30 – 7:30 in the Nick Mirkopoulos Screening Room. To learn more about this event, click here. To learn more about Mokgosi and to see more of his work, click here

About the Author

By Sydney Ewert

Arts Editor

Sydney is in her third year at York University studying Dance. She loves to travel and explore new places. When Sydney is not editing, working, or studying for her classes, she is likely going for walks or learning new recipes.


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Jessica Mokgosi

The word for a person from Botswana is Motswana, not Botswanian.