Initiated last year, Tomorrows/Today is a special project of the Cape Town Art Fair (CTAF) featuring solo presentations from 10 emerging contemporary artists from Africa and its Diaspora. The 2017 installment is curated by Tumelo Mosaka and focuses on artists who explore notions of urban environment in distinct, thought-provoking ways.
With exactly a month to go, here is a chance to get to know the artists before CTAF ’17 opens.
Joël Andrianomearisoa (Madagascar)
Involving himself in multiple media, but often in textile, text and video, Joël Andrianomearisoa brings an architectural sensibility to his work, with a strong emphasis on geometry, line and the colour black. But there is also a poetic edge to his work, filled with hybridity and ambiguity. Andrianomearisoa has featured in major biennales and blockbuster exhibitions including Africa Remix and on Dakar and Havana. He is represented by Sabrina Amrani in Madrid, and lives and works between Paris and Antananarivo.
Serge Attukwei Clottey (Ghana)
Based in Accra and working internationally, Ghanaian Serge Attukwei Clottey’s work repurposes everyday found materials in order to tackle issues of consumerism, excess, urban tension, unstable energy and ineffectual leadership. Eschewing artistic labels, Clottey prefers to refer to himself as a ‘freedom creator’ in that he freely navigates between visual art, performances, interventions and photography projects.
He is probably best known for three main bodies of work: Afrogallonism (a project involving the use of yellow plastic jerry cans as a primary material), GoLokal (a performance collective providing a space for members to express their socio-political concerns in a public space) and My Mother’s Wardrobe (a performance where Clottey walked through Ghana’s capital city in his dead mother’s clothes to honour her memory and to highlight injustice against women). For Tomorrows/Today, Gallery 1957 will present what they have described as a “monumental mixed-media oeuvre” of Clottey’s work.
Jackie Karuti (Kenya)
Working predominantly with drawings and paintings, Jackie Karuti has been more recently experimenting with video and performance. Her whimsically rendered drawing make a contrast with her subject matter, which touches on sexuality, death, migration and the city of Nairobi. Karuti is also obsessed with books, both the knowledge within them and their physicality. She makes books that fold out, with diary-like, intimate content. She has shown her performance I can’t wait to see you in multiple cities across the world. She has been active in residencies from the USA to the Netherlands, and is represented by Circle Art Gallery in Nairobi.
Marcia Kure (Nigeria)
Marcia Kure, represented by Bloom Art in Lagos, works with collage. Her work is innately playful and humorous, but with subversive and challenging undercurrents. Her collages mix-up visual languages, eras, sensibilities and body parts into loose compositions and new figures. These mixtures undercut ideas of fashion and beauty, as well as race and nationality. Kure is based in the US, and has had shows around the world. She will be showing a body of work called Of Saints and Vagabonds.
Onyis Martin (Kenya)
Imbued with a strong social conscience, rising young painter, sculptor, mixed media artist and art teacher Onyis Martin explores a range of complex issues affecting the individual and the community in his work. Often using his own private experience as a departure point for investigating these themes, Martin describes himself as a surrealist, observing that he “paints [his] own fantasies.” Arguably his most well-known body of work featured paintings of dejected human silhouettes and delved into issues of human trafficking from an unexpected and deeply personal perspective. Another acclaimed recent exhibition entitled ‘In Conversation (Talking Walls)’ looked at identity as an abstract metaphor influenced by consumerism in traditional and contemporary social constructs through the juxtaposition of advertising, graffiti and official signage motifs.
Martin currently works with children in the Mathare and Kibera slums in Nairobi, teaching art and crafts as part of giving back to the community. He is represented by ARTLabAfrica in Nairobi.
Maurice Mbikayi (Democratic Republic of Congo)
If you’ve attended any major South African art event over the past three years, Maurice Mbikayi’s work will have been hard to miss. Combining mixed-media, performance and sculpture, Mbikayi forges unforgettable hybrid identities through his Techno Dandy alter ego. Appearing futuristic and linked to defiant self-determinacy, Mbikayi’s characters are formed from obsolete and discarded computer materials. His work examines the renegotiation of borders and identities offered by virtual space while critiquing the waste and exploitative practices which produce the technology required to facilitate it.
Mbikayi has previously been awarded a travelling solo exhibition in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique by the Alliance Française and a three-month residency at IAAB in Basel, Switzerland by Pro Helvetia South Africa. Based in Kinshasa, Mbikayi is represented in South Africa by Gallery MOMO.
Tanya Poole (South Africa)
Based in Grahamstown, Tanya Poole is a contemporary painter and a senior lecturer and Head of the painting section at Rhodes University. Recognised as an accomplished portraitist, Poole has also received acclaim for her innovative fusions of oil painting and stop-frame animation. She was awarded the joint First Prize in the 2004 Brett Kebble Art Awards for Missing, a stirring diptych animation featuring portraits of her father and daughter attempting to speak to each other.
Poole is represented by Everard Read and Circa gallery, and will present an installation of ink portraits entitled The Audience at CTAF ’17. Depicting the karateka from the Albany Karate Club (where the artist trains), the series astutely captures each individual’s personal sense of growth, transformation and development.
Thabiso Sekgala (South Africa)
“People want to see a certain picture of Africa,” Thabiso Sekgala observed while reflecting on his work, “I think there’s a lot of better stuff to photograph than this negative stuff – better than poverty and violence.” Compassionate, empathetic and aimed at capturing the dignity of his subjects, Sekgala explored themes of abandonment, memory, spatial politics and the meaning of home throughout his work.
Attending the Market Photo Workshop from 2007-2008, Sekgala began his career-defining Homeland project the following year. Depicting the homelands of Bophuthatswana and KwaNdebele, the series spoke to the political and personal importance of place and excerpts were included in Okwui Enwezor’s Rise & Fall of Apartheid. Solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, Berlin and Brussels soon followed. With his unexpected death in 2014, the career of one of South Africa’s most promising documentary photographers was tragically cut short. Goodman Gallery will present a posthumous selection of Sekgala’s affective portraits as part of Tomorrows/Today.
Helen Teede (Zimbabwe)
Helen Teede, based in Harare, creates sparse abstract works, evocative of landscape and rock formations. Teede’s use of charcoal, and surprising natural media like bone and rain, along with gentle pastel colours, creates subtle ambiguous works. Teede’s Zimbabwean nationality and her love for the land, forms the main inspiration for the work. Her mark making, which is often tentative and uncertain, reveals the conflicted nature of the land and her own position to that conflict. Teede has recently had solo shows in Harare, Dubai and Johannesburg. Her exhibition at CTAF ’17 is presented jointly by First Floor Gallery, Harare and Showcase Gallery, Dubai.
Sandile Zulu (South Africa)
Sandile Zulu, based in Johannesburg, has a unique sense of pattern and harmony, inspired by biology, botany, history and philosophy. Zulu is best known for his use of fire, burning marks into canvas into elaborate, intricate compositions. The fire, along with other media like earth, gives a sense of groundedness in nature, but also taps into cycles of destruction and creation, the passage of time and the form of organisms. Zulu is represented by SMAC.
Further information can be found here.
The CTAF runs from 17 to 19 February 2017. Tickets are R140 for adults, R100 for students and pensioners and free for under-12s. For more information, visit capetownartfair.co.za.
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