The Message

02.02 – 08.03.2008

The Message comprises of a new series of Berlin artist Mustafa Maluka's paintings that draw stylistically on the genre of portraiture mixed with a street culture edge. Mustafa Maluka draws from an array of visual and literary references ranging from fashion, design, art history, but also cultural analysis, philosophy and psychology, which results in a deliberate hybridisation and internal cross- referencing among the works. This is further reflected in the work's titles that play into the narrative of the paintings. Maluka collects images with a particular gaze, a particular strength and pride that he uses as a starting point. From there, the lengthy process of editing and mixing of these images begins before they are used in the production of his paintings.

These images act as a shell, stripped of it's origin, that the artist fleshes out with meaning through the application of layers of paint. Placing his subjects in a particular context, acting much like a director who is in charge of the characters, the script, the costumes and the lighting in a play.


In The Message, the narrative that the portraits mirror interrogates the ways one perceives the world around oneself through his or her everyday lived experiences, and how the world one lives in, in it's turn, sees that person. The portraits send messages, fluently and profusely. The audience's reception and interpretation of these messages translate the narrative according to each viewers' personal experiences. Thereby the viewer whether by choice or not becomes an actor in Maluka's play.


Maluka was born in Cape Town in 1976. In 1998 he moved to Amsterdam where he studied at the De Ateliers Post-Graduate Art Institute. Since 2007, he has lived and worked in Berlin. He has exhibited in Asia, Europe, the United States and South America (Sao Paolo Biennial). His works were included in the 2006 group show, ‘What Lies Beneath: New Art from South Africa’ at Galerie Mikael Andersen in Copenhagen. Maluka recently held a solo exhibition, ‘Reflexive Indices: A Phenomenological Study’ included on, at Galerie Bertrand & Gruner in Geneva (2007), and isFlow at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, opening 2 April 2008.