For her seventh exhibition at the gallery, Mntambo uses paintings, sculpture and mono-prints to deliver a new chapter in her ongoing meditation on binaries. The snake you left inside me explores the interdependence of shadow and light, alluding to the tensions inherent in relationships. Combining dark shades with gold-leaf, Mntambo utilises the refracting nature of various snake mythologies as an expression of the mechanics of illumination.
The figure of the snake becomes emblematic of Mntambo’s resistance to dichotomy. Occupying different roles in different cultures, some life-giving and others ominous, the snake is impervious to essentialism and Mntambo explores this in her use of colour and her ruminations on androgyny. Her interest centres on the hybrid and shape-shifting nature of the snake, and most importantly the portrayal of the half-snake, half-woman Echidna, known in Greek mythology as the mother of monsters. The artist draws on the depiction of this figure, simultaneously maternal and lethal, as the means to articulate a vision of wholeness as a necessarily fractured thing.
As the musculature of the snake relies on side-to-side movement to propel itself forward, The snake you left inside me offers an investigation of the emancipatory properties of curvature. Mntambo’s humped and protuberant forms visualise a resistance to linearity, positing serenity and completion as the product of continuous revision.