29 April - 4 June 2023
Mustafa Maluka’s (b. 1976) exhibition shows a series of powerful new portraits made using the means of contemporary painting. In Maluka’s works the intent gazes of the anonymous figures are aimed straight at the viewer, and these resolute characters have been painted in several layers and set against bright, multicoloured geometric backgrounds. The viewer’s attention is initially fixed on the figures’ eyes, which have become an important visual element for Maluka (who might previously have scratched away the eyes to the point of invisibility). The figures are mute, but their gazes say a lot. 

Maluka painted his first portrait as a teenager, when he was still living with his parents. Its subject was a holocaust victim in Auschwitz. At that time, Maluka was not yet fully capable of understanding the brutality of the holocaust, but he was able to identify with the feelings of the person depicted. Those feelings were the same as could be seen in the faces of the residents of the village where he lived. “The characteristic restless gaze of the figures in my portraits is linked to conflicts caused by forced migration. I was born amid discord and otherness. Under apartheid, my family and 3.5 million other non-white South Africans were forced to move to ghettos away from areas owned by white people. Instead of victims, the figures I depict are survivors."

Maluka's interest in economics has lead him to mathematics and the concept of directional continuity, which refers to the idea that a function or curve maintains a consistent direction as it approaches a point. This concept, when applied to the study of intergenerational wealth and inequality, helps to illustrate how wealth and resources tend to flow in certain directions and accumulate over time. It gives us insight into the structural nature of inequality that exists within many societies and the ways in which it is perpetuated through self replication over generations.

The South Africa-born, Turku-resident Maluka has studied fine arts at De Ateliers in Amsterdam and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Apart from numerous private collections, Maluka’s works are, for instance, in the North Carolina Museum of Art, Burger Collection Hong Kong, and the Jiménez - Colón Collection. DIRECTIONAL CONTINUITY is Maluka’s second solo exhibition at Makasiini Contemporary.