“One day a man stared at the reflection of the sun in a lake. Lost in reverie, he found himself somewhere he had never been before. It was nothing like the earth.” - Ben Okri, The Freedom Artist.

    Mirrors have an ethereal, occult place within the collective culture of humanity – they are often seen as conduits offering a clear, unblemished reflection of what truly is. Yet in mirrors, we often see a haunting inverse of our reality, and the clarity which mirrors show us is often unwelcome. To search our reflections in a mirror is an uncanny, jarring experience as we are never able to see ourselves in a singular way. Every observance is tinged by our own experiences and imaginations, as well as the experiences of our culture, mythologies, and expectations. Mirrors, therefore, may not show what is, but rather, show what we expect to see. Phumlani Ntuli’s work is influenced by this idea of reflection – an analysis of not only the self, but how we come to define ourselves through our personal and collective stories. For Ntuli, this is an intimate exploration of boyhood into manhood. In his exquisite work on canvas and through collage, the real and the fantastic are blended, as we cannot find the self without delving into both our realities and our imaginations. These ideas define each other rather than being mutually exclusive: the real is underpinned by fantasy, and the fantasy is given depth by reality. Human beings are an amalgamation: a beautiful, complex tapestry of these kinds of contradictions – and only in blending seemingly opposite ideas can there be any harmony with, or the revealing of, the self. Curatorial Statement by Ruzy Rusike