Cognitive Ruptures: Imagined Communities and the Multiculturalism of Fear

09.09 – 29.10.2011


Mustafa Maluka’s large-scale portraits on canvas often have a provocative and direct effect on the viewer. The artist is deeply concerned with contemporary critical social theory and world politics. His bright and colourful works are stylistically closely linked to pop culture, graffiti and hip-hop.


His portraits typically have their starting point in everyday media such as magazines or advertisements that attract the artist’s attention. In the new series that will be shown in Galerie Mikael Andersen Berlin, Mustafa Maluka selected specific people from different cultures and photographed them, using the photos as a starting point for the painted portraits. The people he portrays distinguish themselves by their strong and proud gaze. The many layers of paint allow them to appear as characters with a distinct personality divorced from their original context. They often seem calm, composed and sublime.


The technique of the layers of paint mirrors the search for or the development of one’s own identity. Discussions around cultural identity and migration are of central importance to Maluka’s work. His works analyse the different experiences of those who, like the artist himself, were born and raised in another context; citizens of the world whose home is not a specific place, seemingly on an endless quest, yet at home everywhere.


Maluka’s works are informed by his experiences with his own outsider status, first in the so-called Cape Flats in Cape Town and later in other countries. Through these experiences he has developed a critical and subversive strategy that is characteristic of his artistic practice. We find an almost sarcastic view of the world in titles such as “Scepticism is healthy” or “Restructuring foundations.”


Maluka was born in 1976 in Cape Town. In 1998 he moved to Amsterdam where he studied at the De Ateliers Post-Graduate Art Institute. In 2004 Maluka moved back to South Africa and won the Tollman Award for Visual Arts. In 2006 he moved to Berlin. Mustafa Maluka currently lives and works in New York and Helsinki. Maluka has exhibited in Asia, Europe, the USA and South America.