Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1986, Larita Engelbrecht has been involved in academia for most of her life. In 2009 she received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch, followed by an MA in Visual Art three years later. In addition to her work as a visual artist, Engelbrecht is now a senior lecturer at Cape Town Creative Academy. This proximity to knowledge, or more accurately, the systems and processes that have come to define and transpose knowledge, forms the basis for her latest body of work ‘Met Ander Oë,’ which will be exhibited at EBONY Curated in Cape Town from the 1st September until the 29th October.
Bradley McCallum is a Brooklyn-based artist whose practice has long been politically and socially-engaged. The international tour of his ‘Weights and Measures’ series, which addresses questions of social justice through the lens of the International Criminal Court, will launch at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg in February 2017. A selection of his ‘reversal’ paintings from this series – large-scale portraits of criminal defendants rendered in a grisaille, almost solarised palette – was also on view at ‘Still (the) Barbarians,’ at the 2016 EVA Biennial in Limerick, Ireland, curated by Koyo Kouoh. Depicting gures as diverse as Congolese militia leader German Katanga and South African jurist Navi Pillay, the series navigates the humanity of the justice system from the perspective of defendants, justice advocates and victims. Allison K. Young spoke with McCallum about the ‘Weights and Measures’ series and its forthcoming debut in South Africa.
Far from the razzmatazz of New York City’s art scene – and only a two and a half hour train ride away – in the nation’s capital of Washington DC, is the National Museum of African Art. It’s a post-modern jewel of a building tucked away between the Arthur. M Sackler Gallery for Asian Art and the Air and Space Museum. Washington DC is largely home to admin staff and the secret service, so it can be a bit vanilla, à la Pretoria (in South Africa). But it is one of the world’s greatest cities and one that houses many of the nation’s top museums. And because the Federal Government owns them, entrance is free. ‘Artists’ Books and Africa,’ curated by Janet Stanley, is showcased at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art until September 11, 2016.
Cape Town artist, Campbell Lak, takes a playful take on past and current major political events by transforming beloved comic book characters. From ‘JjACOB ZUMA THE ORIGINAL ZUMATELLO’ (above) and ‘NELSON MANDELA IS SUPER-MAN’, Lak brings a fresh approach to the country’s ever-so-gloom democratic soap story.
‘Mastry,’ Kerry James Marshall’s survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, feels like a full-circle moment for the city, putting into sharp focus the stakes of the representation of bodies of colour.
Chicago is experiencing a steady rise in gun violence that may be related to the institutional chaos in the wake of the October 2015 release of a video showing the police shooting Laquan Macdonald, an unarmed black teen. The video of Macdonald’s murder was looped countless times on news stations and web platforms, an endless falling of a young, black male’s body: the image drew protestors out onto the streets.
Following the resounding success of the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2015/16 - where a total of forty-seven regional finalists were selected to exhibit (compared to the previous year’s tally of twenty-one finalists), the official Call to Entry for the third edition of the awards is now live. Un-established artists and designers stand a chance to change their careers through financial support, recognition, mentorship and guidance by entering the PPC Imaginarium Awards 2016/17.
On the 18th of January, Nigerian artist Jelili Atiku gave a performance dealing with domestic terrorism and abuses by the rich and powerful. Four days later he was arrested by armed officers; denied information and a phone-call and held until the following morning when he’d be charged in court. Five months later, the artist, as well as poet Adeola Goloba and five others regained their freedom as the Ejigbo Magistrate Court struck out all criminal charges instituted against them by the Nigerian Police.
Last month, Mary-Jane Darroll (former Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery and Corporate Collection) and Ruarc Peffers (recent Senior Art Specialist and auctioneer at Strauss & Co.) introduced their new auctioneering firm, Aspire Art Auctions, to the South African market. They are now pleased to introduce their partners; Emma Bedford and Jacqui Carney. This powerhouse of art specialists collectively offers in excess of eighty years’ experience in the art industry, and through Aspire Art Auctions intend to focus on the promotion of fine arts, both locally and abroad.
Dressed in black with glasses set before her eyes, Lerato Shadi is sitting on a four legged chair – body tranquil, legs crossed – her fingers moving and weaving from what looks like a red woolen ball – transforming it into what appears to be a red carpet. Lerato means ‘Love’ and no doubt she is using the colour red as a metaphor that drives her exhibition theme. ‘Noka Ya Bokamoso’ is a Tswana saying for ‘River Of The Future.’ This exhibition, curated by Joan Legalamitlwa, is effervescence of the live performance – and includes other mediums such as video installations and drawings.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy was living in Alexandria, Egypt – then under British rule – when he penned a poem titled Waiting for the Barbarians (written in 1898, published in 1904). The poem’s subject is seemingly antiquarian – it invokes the edgling democracies of ancient Greece and Rome – but its political import was as relevant to Cavafy’s time as it is today. It tells of a despondent government that refuses to make progress, paralysed by anticipation of a fabled Barbarian invasion, which never happens. Cavafy muses on the causes and consequences of political inaction as well as the tendency for communities to self-define only in relation to a perceived ‘Other.’ “Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?” the narrator pleads, “Those people were a kind of solution.”
Over a year has passed since the Rhodes Must Fall (#RhodesMustFall) movement was incepted into the national psyche. Such has been the power of this student-led movement that it has come to define the very nature of contemporary political, socio-economic and cultural struggle.
With a fresh pool of young African artists significantly raising previous benchmarks, the adjudicators of this year's Barclay's L'Atelier competition have announced the winners in one of the most strongly contested editions of the annual contemporary art competition to-date.
Cape Town-based artist Paul Senyol has been working tirelessly on his latest body of work, which will be on show at the Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg) between the 14th - 17th July. Inspired by colour, form, the built and natural environment, and Peter Doig, this series of paintings reflect his love for the medium, the creative process, and his plans for the future.
Held at the AVA Gallery in Cape Town, Janet Ranson's current exhibition, '_REALITY CHECK_' provides a sensory and intimate portrait of the artist's relation to the world-at-large. "Rescued natural debris, from South Africa's Karoo shrubs to Korean seaweed, are returned to the Long Gallery at the AVA as objects of interest, beauty and complexity," writes Cape Town-based artist Rose Gelderblom-Waddilove.
Inspired by urban architecture, Hugh Byrne’s latest body of work (which will be on show at the Turbine Art Fair (Johannesburg) from 14th - 17th July) uses painting and sculpture to elicit a sensory response to the subliminal effects of our built environment. “Through my art, I try to interpret and present observations of my surroundings, of things many people would consider to be mundane,” says Byrne, “but the point is not for viewers to be able to visualise the same cityscape or architectural elements that inspired me… If my art elicits some kind of emotional response, then I feel I have been successful.”