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Painter Bahati Simoens first solo show in SA (Cape Town) – a ‘must-see’

As many art lovers would agree, there's nothing more pleasing like indulging in a Bahati Simoens painting. To experience the magic touch of this globally renowned painter in person, be sure you're among the first to catch her first ever, must-see solo exhibition in South Africa at the Cape Town-based Botho Project Space gallery from February 16 to 19.

A globe-trotting painter whose vibrant, figurative paintings celebrating black bodies have enthralled audiences in the furthest corners of the world (from South Africa to New York, Madrid, Belgium and recently Berlin and Los Angeles), Bahati Simoens is gearing up to present her first South African solo show ever mid February at Botho Project Space, Cape Town.

Through the must-see Western love story titled ‘The Halfway Line‘, the Johannesburg-based self-taught artist – of Congolese and Belgian descent -offers a black owned story that explores the black cowboys narrative anchored in a South African context.

By re-inventing a vision of a community, she shines a spotlight on the whitewashing that Hollywood spread around the black cowboys. She does this in an unapologetic manner that highlights the importance of showcasing the experiences of the non-white persons who never felt seen – as reflected below. In a nutshell, her paintings are all about sharing, realistically so, black people’s joy, as well as their pain.

‘Not all the cowboys on horseback offered by the entertainment industry were marvellous utopias of white heroism” – Bahati Simoens’ The Halfway Line provides a revised version of a community of black cowboys from South Africa that would allow women to ride horses.

The Halfway Line‘ strong story premise

Throughout history, all the cowboys and renegades on horseback offered by the entertainment industry were marvellous utopias of white heroism. Western movies were meant to capture the essence of America, including the freedom of the open frontier and the self-determination of man through the figure of the cowboy himself, commonly understood to be an excellent shot who rides horses and who, above all, is white.

That’s what Hollywood has tried to make the public believe for many years but the true origin of cowboys comes in the 16th century with the Hispanic community. In the 1800s, the cowboys then became mainly people of colour who were given work by the white American. The full visual language that was developed by the black cowboys has since, been taken away to create this figure that Hollywood sold to the world.

Today, with ‘The Halfway Line‘, Simoens provides a revised version of a community of black cowboys from South Africa that would allow women to ride horses and be these figures of freedom and self-determination.

Heavily inspired by her African heritage, Bahati Simoens work is a kaleidoscope of colour that celebrates black bodies.

Through an unapologetic love letter to the black body, she celebrates black cowboys and white weddings among signature characters that are giving audiences a critical rereading of how history can be told and pictured.

Playing a pivotal role within the culture space by introducing new audiences to different art forms, this must-see exhibition will be powered by disruptor brand Jägermeister.


Temoso Mokoena
Temoso Mokoena
Temoso Mokoena is a tech and sneaker enthusiast who likes to stay neutral in all things.
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