Johannesburg-based artist, Peter Mammes, is known for his intricate and patterned drawings of what some would find arbitrary and grotesque, often conveying beauty through the uncomfortable. In this new body of work, Mammes is situating himself within contemporary, often postcolonial, debates around the documentation of history and narratives. Mammes says: “history is presented as simple grand narratives and those narratives shape our current political and social conceptions. Through my work I attempt to challenge those narratives.”
Nuances in a Narrow Spectrum investigates and unravels the documentation of history and questions the truthfulness around documentation whilst attempting to unveil myths that are often layered within history.
“We believe in these generated myths and those myths inform our ideas of good and evil. Historical narrative is therefore constructed in a very particular way to benefit the current status quo and written in a manner that makes this narrative almost impossible to question,” explains the artist. The images function as placeholders for ideas; each image in Mammes’ body of work represents a spectrum of concepts that mirrors reality’s nuanced and varied states. The artist sources imagery from museums, history books and his own travels and often focuses on portraits of (perceived) pivotal historical figures. Furthermore, Mammes references the great wars of the 20th century and incorporates the Boer War, as he feels they are definitive events that shaped our current political systems.