Goodman Gallery presents You’ll be sorry, an exhibition of new large-scale paintings by Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum. This body of work, created in Sunstrum’s new studio in The Hague, unpacks the concept of homecoming and expands on a core thematic impulse in her practice: the push and pull between the personal and the universal narrative, presenting cinematic scenes that slip between the real and the imagined.
You’ll be sorry marks Sunstrum’s first solo presentation in the Johannesburg gallery, a city that played a significant role in shaping the artist’s identity post international studies and her residency at the Bag Factory in 2010 where Sunstrum worked alongside the likes of the late David Koloane and Sam Nghlengthwa.
Featured works play out the fictional narrative of a femme fatale figure who embodies the precarity, suspicion and defiance that comes with a return and desire for access. The figure is seen in gathering spaces; lines outside bureaucratic buildings, seating areas outside the home, by the river. Occupying the liminal spaces of colonial outposts and government offices, the vulnerability of requesting permission to leave or stay is poignant. It brings to the surface the residue and hierarchy of colonial power structures. The figure’s ambiguity is highlighted through her staged positions and disjointed placement within the environment, coupled with her translucent appearance. This provides an interrogation of border politics in the geopolitical sense as well as a feeling of being on the border, an outsider, within one's immediate circumstances.
Born in Botswana, Sunstrum’s evocative - and sometimes provocative - paintings consider the impact of returning home with new experiences and exposure to new knowledge systems, and the psychological shift that occurs through this process. The work considers how a sense of belonging is ascribed and felt at a personal level as well as within larger historical and global contexts.
The experience of going away and coming back to a home place after having new experiences or having access to new resources has always been quite a fraught experience for myself and one that you feel really physically when you make that shift from being away to being back home. I've been thinking about that so much with this work. My connection to place in Botswana or in South Africa or Southern Africa at large has always felt very tenuous because of the ways that my personal background has always seemed at odds with a particular obsession with taxonomy that continues to characterise and undermine life in Southern Africa. - Sunstrum
Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (b. 1980, Botswana) is a Netherlands-based multidisciplinary artist whose practice encompasses drawing, painting, installation and animation. Her work alludes to mythology, geology and theories on the nature of the universe. Sunstrum’s drawings take the form of narrative landscapes that appear simultaneously futuristic and ancient, shifting between representational and fantastical depictions of volcanic, subterranean, cosmological and precipitous landscapes.
Sunstrum’s major new work The Pavilion (2023), produced in collaboration with Remco Osório Lobato, is the latest commission by London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE and is Sunstrum’s first UK solo presentation at a public institution.
Notable projects include Sunstrum’s inclusion in the 2023 Liverpool Biennial with the work, “Mumbo Jumbo and The Committee,” an installation featuring drawing, animation and bespoke furnishing inspired by Victorian design and aesthetics; and Sunstrum’s mural around the exterior of The Showroom in London (2018). The work was dedicated to South African Novelist Bessie Head and formed part of the show group show Women on Aeroplanes.
Key exhibitions and performances include: All my seven faces at Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, OH, USA (2019); Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; The Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Kunsthaus Zürich (2019); The Nest, The Hague (2019); Michaelis School for the Arts at the University of Cape Town (2018); Artpace, San Antonio, TX, USA (2018); The Phillips Museum of Arts, Lancaster (2018); Interlochen Centre for the Arts, Interlochen (2016); NMMU Bird Street Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth (2016); Tiwani Contemporary, London (2016); VANSA, Johannesburg (2015); Brundyn Gallery, Cape Town (2014); FRAC Pays de Loire, France (2013); the Havana Biennial (2012); and MoCADA, New York (2011).