Stories to Tell | Joel Mpah Dooh: Johannesburg

April 29, 2021

‘Stories to Tell’ is Gallery MOMO’s first show for Gallery MOMO in 2021. The gallery will be open to visitors observing all Covid-19 protocols.

Gallery MOMO is proud to present ‘Stories to Tell” a solo exhibition by Joel Mpah Dooh. The exhibition presents a new body of work created by the artist during his residency period at Gallery MOMO Johannesburg. What was meant to be a 90 day residency period extended to almost 5 months of uncertainty in lockdown. In his own words,”When I landed in Johannesburg on March 17th I was unaware of the gravity of the situation, but everyone around me seemed to already be preparing for a very imminent lockdown which would be announced a few days later.”


Dooh is not unaccustomed to strange events around his regular visits to Johannesburg, all of which seem to add layers to his work. In 2016 Dooh presented ‘Since We Last Met’ an exhibition that extended on a previous experience on one of his prior trips which saw him stranded at the OR Tambo International Airport, neither able to return home or back into the city beyond the airport confines. 


As he always positions himself as flaneur, coupled with his mastery, Dooh translates all his observations into renders that examine the human condition and the complexities thereof. ‘Stories to tell’ continues his ability to tell stories visually, though this time the freedom to observe was challenged by the state imposed lockdown. In this body of work the artist takes us through his moments of solitary confinement, his grappling with interactions with the external world through technology, a transgression of some of the rules, grief and some of the moments of accepting the ‘new normal’. The few interactions with passersby at the gallery inspired the title of the exhibition, along with Dooh’s friend, Tim, who said “you will have stories to tell after this”. 


Ashraf Jamal writes in his review, “Despite global rage, avid posturing and virtue signalling, the maw of identity politics, resurgence of xenophobia and unthinking hatred of others, Dooh gifts us the sacramental. The naivete of his figures, their rudimentary and gaudy sketchiness, are expressions of states of grace. We desperately require the artist’s ennobled vision, cannot survive this world without the consolation it affords.” – Joel Mpah Dooh: A Loving Eye