Maliza Kiasuwa: Today is Yesterday

Online Exhibition, 29 April to 20 May 2020

To view exhibition on Artsy click here
To view available works click here

Circle Art Gallery is delighted to announce an exclusive online show of a selection of new two and three dimensional works from Maliza Kiasuwa, from her ongoing series entitled ‘Yesterday is Today’.

In her art making, Maliza Kiasuwa focuses on materials available to her in her immediate environment. Today is Yesterday, begun in 2019, is an ongoing series in which Kiasuwa is interested in transforming and breathing new life into ordinary objects from which she draws inspiration. The collages are constructed using an array of materials including: cut up old x-ray sheets, artisanal papers, magazine cutouts and slivers of plastic, bits of polythene mesh (a material used widely in Naivasha where she lives for sectioning off bits of farmland), cotton thread, to name a few. These are cut, folded, glued and stitched together, to produce layered compositions, clever in the use of colour and texture, in a process that synthesizes something new yet familiar from things left over from previous events and encounters. This sensibility extends to Kiasuwa’s patchwork wall hangings, and her complex mixed media sculptures. Combining techniques such as stitching, braiding, winding, weaving, this intermingling of natural and industrial materials results in biomorphic sculptures which Kiasuwa thinks of as totems that pay homage to Mother Nature.

In this work, Kiasuwa thinks about what remains of our activities in the world, the things we collect and those that are left behind in our wake, and how these can be the source of something new, something beautiful.

“I live on a disused farm by the lake of Naivasha, in the heart of the Great Rift Valley. It is my own private Garden of Eden, with giraffe and zebra quietly enjoying the shade of the acacia trees, and the sound of yawning hippos at a distance. Directly across from the farm is a bustling settlement called Karagita; a complex web of tiny shops and market stalls. Streets are filled with vendors, craftsmen, fishermen, children, donkeys and chicken wandering around.

The co-existence of these two worlds is an endless source of inspiration; my art reflects both the raw natural beauty of my environment and common, everyday acts of recycling, stitching and mending. My sculptures and collages are made of bits and pieces that I collect during my daily expeditions – cotton threads, hand-braided ropes made from straw or rubber, plastic bags washed up on the lake shore. I often combine these local materials with handmade fabrics such as Japanese Washi paper, putting together things that don’t seem to belong together.

I undo, cut-and-paste, deconstruct, and reassemble materials, giving them a new form while trying to preserve the integrity and the origin of each element of the process. I think of myself as a sort of mad surgeon, cutting and stitching, suturing, creating new life for my materials. I create and look at the result; experimenting, working and reworking these creations, over and over again, until I arrive at what seems to me the perfect combination.

Miles Davis said that jazz is the perfect combination between discipline and improvisation. I like that.

My workshop is in a barn full of hay, and with the current global pandemic, it feels like a safe fortress; I work while my children construct secret caverns in the hay. I can’t help but think that this virus is an expression of anger by Mother Nature, and I sometimes imagine myself as a witch doctor, building totems to honour our planet and ask her for forgiveness. I guess we badly need it.”

– Maliza Kiasuwa, April 2020