Propagation: defined by Oxford dictionary as ‘the reproduction or spreading of something into new regions’. Born Belmiro Antonio Jemusse – better known as Jemmiro, changes the whole definition and gives it a visual motion and promptness. The solo exhibition exudes traces of physical qualities and attitudes– a facial gesticulation here and temperament depiction there. He further envelopes the observer with the opportunity to discern the gentleness and the fierceness, mildness or cross-temper, courage or timidity, fear or confidence, high spirits or low, cunning and, with regard to intelligence, something parallel to sagacity. The work entitled Lolita attests to this observation.
The M.B Community Studio, co-founded by the visual artist, Mbongeni Buthelezi, presents Propagation solo exhibition by the Mozambican born artist Jemmiro. The exhibition is curated by co-founder of M.B Community Studio, Sara McGee. It opened on the 29th of October and will run through to November the 11th at Da Vinci Hotel. As one manoeuvres through the exhibition, navigating and immersing oneself in seven medium scaled paintings by Jemmiro, one ascends to the ethereal places, the uncharted domiciles. In his own words he says: ‘The work draws the viewers to an unfamiliar and familiar world, taking you to a place where you are there, but you are not there; you are flying but the sensation is that you are walking. The works allow the viewer to interpret the defined and undefined through their own perspective on life.’
His statement is true, artists work from their inner core being, their essential anchorage of the creativity – that is where the known disappears and the unknown begins. So, deep from the artist’s unknown conscience, true nature is born. The true nature becomes integral to the artistic spirit of an artist; the sounds of nature affect creativity as much as the visuals do: the texture and composition of the brush-stroke informs its application, as a sensual experience.
Those familiar with his work, or those have been coherently following Jemmiro’s work for the past decade or so, agree that this exhibition brought to the public a part of his creations not yet seen. As a very soft spoken individual, with not much to say unless spoken to, he learnt about the hidden voice in his art that directly or indirectly spoke to him, theorizing on life and other matters. This process continues to shape his art process and positions it in the attainment of a new tune. His work by, virtue of visual inclination, takes the viewer to fantasy and thus, becoming more responsive to the instincts and intuitions of bold mysticism, the viewer is also taken closer to his work.
The spirit of his imaginary landscapes, at times saturated with suggestive faces of women and children, is curious. On the face of these pieces, they are calm, ‘sublime’ or sensitively nostalgic. Conversely, with uninterrupted engagement with his landscapes, one realises that these pieces have far more to do with the art of human experiences than nature; his art further takes a form of satire – one of his pieces is entitled Satirical Events.
In the painting Layers of Time, mood is elemental. It is the expressed abstract shadows, by wind, by water and by what seems like fire. It appears that he found the mood in nature only acted as a confirmation of something intrinsic to his own imaginative vision. This vision may have been born partly from his childhood which later influenced his human enterprise, this becomes clear when Jemmiro says:
“My work is a mere suggestion of things, with your sharp imagination you can explore and enjoy better the visualization as I once did standing in the same position as you now do. The work hereby is meant to provoke the viewer’s creative instincts/side.”
Layers of Time is a dance of the spirit which releases itself from you and to you at the same time. That process is a conversation between materials, self and idea.
Jemmiro is a contemporary artist for whom painting is a magic interpretation of the most profound thoughts and most beautiful dreams. His brush strokes on canvass are like musical notes, so melodic that one may end up lost, only to be found after fully interpreting the abstract mystic piece. His subject matter remains close to nature with suggestive figures dancing un-choreographically on the surface of canvasses.
His consciousness as an artist is pragmatic and almost artisanal. To say that he is a visionary, one must qualify it by emphasizing his hard-headed empiricism. There is something about his work, if it is a conversation, then it makes one stop and glare at the painting and listen to the mind until it speaks back to the heart – the more you look, is the more you engage with it – it provokes unexplainable emotions, sufficient to say the work is thought provoking. He works mainly from a subconscious- conscious memory and imagination. He believes, as people, we pass ourselves on through art which identifies our oneness with nature and ourselves.
Jemmiro’s personal process reduces the idea to its core and puts it into a world of marks, texture, depth, form and colour, mood whilst conveying emotional idealism. The result is a mythic interpretation. That subject matter is symbolic. The viewer becomes part of Jemmiro’s world, him also becoming part of the viewers as well. He becomes fearless in his desire to find out where the paintings will take him. “So, it struck me that I was actually standing before a moving thing, something that did something to my thoughts, feelings and emotions” a thought well punctuated by the artist, Belmiro Antonio Jemusse.
Propagation is a definitive advance of Jemmiro’s previous body of works for it is a crystallization of experience embodied within a profound, timeless aesthetic maturity. Here is a work of artistic wisdom.
By Khehla Chepape Makgato
Khehla Chepape Makgato is a Joburg- based independent artist and arts writer contributing articles regularly to ART AFRICA and The Journalist online publications. He works at Assemblage Studios. He is the founder of Samanthole Creative Projects & Workshop, a community-based art organisation focusing on arts and literacy youth programmes.