Mythopoeia: Mequitta Ahuja, Kapwani Kiwanga, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Alida Rodrigues, Tiwani Contemporary, London

Tiwani Contemporary, London, gathers together four international artists for its latest group exhibition, Mythopoeia. Drawn from the Greek muthopoios and meaning composer of fiction, the exhibition title highlights the age-old role of storytelling in rationalising the unknown. Featured artists, Mequitta Ahuja, Kapwani Kiwanga, Alida Rodrigues and Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, work across a variety of media in order to craft their own, new mythologies. Mythopoeia suggests that contemporary art can offer an opportunity to re-interpret the world.

Baltimore-based Mequitta Ahuja will début new paintings featuring The Journeyman – self-portraits which depict the craftsman as both archetype and individual. In vast and detailed paintings, Ahuja ties in the historical links between paint and alchemy, and the relationship between source material, the creative making process and crafted form.

Also showing previously unseen works is Paris-based Kapwani Kiwanga, whose sculptural assemblages draw on her long-standing interest in the legend of Drexciya, an underwater city founded and built by the African slaves who were drowned during the Middle Passage. The work considers cultural mutation through combining Vodoun mythology from Benin, Haitian beliefs, and the contemporary urban mythology of the Detroit techno group Drexciya – together forming a journey into the depths of collective black consciousness.

Hailing from Botswana and working in Johannesburg today, artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum’s drawings and video animations look back to the beginning of time and its various interpretations – incorporating the beliefs of ancient mythologies and the results of cutting edge science. Sunstrum combines geological speculations of the Earth’s structure, theories of the universe and even 18th century Romantic landscape painting in her narrative, drawn landscapes which shift between straight forward and fantastical depictions of volcanic, subterranean and cosmological landscapes.

Reiterating and incorporating the Victorian fascination with the sciences is the work of London-based Alida Rodrigues, whose collages combine found material such as cuttings of botanical images and found Victorian postcards, highlighting the co-dependence of science, exoticism and commerce within Britain’s colonial past. Looking at how people have attempted to understand the world around them through small and extensive means, throughout the ages, this exhibition makes obvious the human need for clarity and explanation, and the bizarre and greatly varied myths we create in an attempt to do so.

Mythopoeia: Mequitta Ahuja, Kapwani Kiwanga, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Alida Rodrigues, until 9 May, Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street, London W1W 8BP.

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1. Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum, The Star + The Moon, 2011. Video animation, 2m07s. Courtesy of Tiwani Contemporary.