Cassi Namoda, Life isn’t always young and sweet

Review by Molly Cranston

Someone once told me how life is round, and that when clocks stopped being round and started being square, digital numbers, we began to lose our connection to the passing of time, to the measure, balance, and cycles of the world. I was warned to surround myself with circular things, to take care that I did. Looking at Cassi Namoda’s work helps me get there. She is acutely attuned to the flux of fate and the roundness of life. Roundness that is not synonymous with gentleness, but inevitability and duality. In her new body of work, “You’ll be old too one day. Life isn’t always young and sweet”, on view at Francois Ghebaly until 20th September, Namoda explores moonlit motifs of joy and pain (the unavoidable presence of both together), family and cosmic connectivity. 

Namoda paints scenes of Mozambique, her childhood home and half her cultural heritage, gushing and alive in edible colours – lavender, sage, pomelo, yolk and mint – taking palette inspiration from the Impressionists and German Expressionists. Brightly swathed characters gorgeously occupy the space but remain discomforted. Twins and sisters, tearful and conjoined, with many legs or faces flit between the sorrow and wonder, burdened by the weight of their internal selves. Are all tears unhappy? A perfect moon in each corner gazes on steadily, orangely. 

Maria, a feminine character Namoda has developed in her work to probe and represent the multi-perspectivity of post-colonial Mozambique, reappears in the exhibition. Here, doleful, anxious in front of a Byzantine-style church (in Northern-Mozambique where Namoda’s mother grew up) with a troupe of marching prawns. These surreal and symbolic elements are what makes Namoda’s work so wistful; every inch of work is loved, studied and referential. Each subject in her paintings are “plump spheres”; moons, suns, clocks and droplets, innately aware of the non-linear passage of time, birth and death.

Maria Returns to Nativity, Tchaubo Land, 2020, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 66 inches

Eduardo in Matola Prepares Orange Pants,
2020, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

Orange Moon Gives Birth, 2020, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

Four Legged Girl Entangled, 2020, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 23 x 18 inches

Images Courtesy of the Artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles.