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'_REALITY CHECK_': Janet Ranson at AVA Gallery, Cape Town

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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.

Hugh Byrne: Urban Architecture and the Everyday

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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.”

'Myth-Making, Space-Shifting': ruby onyinyechi amanze on hybridity, 'Africanness' and paper

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Myth, memory, folklore, history – all potent territories of intersection between truth and untruth. Can they be teased apart? Should they be? Is mythological-realism the ultimate love letter to the hybrid nature of our modern lives, constantly twisting and shape-shifting nebulously, on and on? The work of artist ruby onyinyechi amanze climbs directly into these spaces of ambiguity and revels in the freedom to play indefinitely, with form, character and place. ART AFRICA spoke to amanze about her practice, her personal myth making and what it means to her to be an ‘African’ artist today. 

'If I Can Make It There...' Valerie Kabov explores some of the emergent themes of the African presence at art fairs abroad

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These days, reading art press is a perilous exercise for the fact seeker. Given that most (if not all) popular publishing platforms rely on advertising or non-reader driven funding, fact is often coloured by obligations to those who hold the money. Moreover, in an industry where perception has a far higher impact on price and market making, good PR is everything. With so much money at stake, the easiest path to securing a chorus of approval is via the channels and players who acknowledge the importance of these structures, not only in general but also in the context of their own practice.

'Self-definition Through Time:' Zoltán Somhegyi reviews 'The Time is Out of Joint' and 'Two Suns in a Sunset' at the Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE

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Is it past and future or, perhaps, continuous present? Former events influence our today and shape our tomorrow. This fluidity of temporal perspectives results in the phenomenon whereby the reflection of real events has an impact on the potential future. The future is thus always imaginary, since we can never fully define and predict our destiny. What is less obvious, however, is that the past itself is just as unknown as the future. Therefore, imagination, as well as the fertile mixture of real and fictitious, can be an important element not only in our expectation of the future but in our understanding of the past too.

Vortex, Inc Nigeria: Somto Ajuluchukwu talks African comic culture with Su Opperman

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Meet Vortex, Inc. Homebrewed in Lagos, Nigeria, this creative content and entertainment company is changing the face of African comic production. Through Vortex, African culture finds unique expression predominantly through the iconic visual language of the comic book. Galvanising the continent by exporting African stories made by African creators to a broader audience, Vortex publishes stories that are abundantly spiced with the distinct flavour of the Motherland.

'Sacred Spaces,' Bright Young Thing: Mathias Chirombo

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“Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.” - Mark Rothko 

There’s something incredibly captivating about Mathias Chirombo’s work. Standing up close to his large scale painting Death of the Mermaid III (2013), I am struck by an overwhelming sense of silence. This world – deep, pulsating, blue – stretches out around me, pulling me in. Spellbound, I take a step back, curious as to how I got here. Interestingly, it is the work and words of Mark Rothko that I am inclined to fall back on. 

'...when they grow up...': Ebony G. Patterson at the Studio Museum Harlem, by Robin Scher

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A physical frequency can be felt walking into Ebony G. Patterson’s on-site installation ‘...when they grow up…’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Maybe this feeling is a result of the hot pink, plush carpeting or the two hundred patterned, fabric covered balloons hanging from the roof? It could also be the sudden wave of nostalgia upon entering a room scattered with familiar childhood objects. On closer inspection, the static sensation might have to do with the carefully placed human subjects: blown-up photographs of black children within a brightly coloured collage.

Borders-Within: The Trans-Nigerian Road Trip

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“A border is the declaration of an end to a thought. But nothing undermines a border like movement — to move is to shift the full-stop in a conversation.” This sentence was penned by Yinka Elujoba, one of ten participants in Invisible Borders’ latest endeavour — Borders-Within: The Trans-Nigerian Roadtrip. Beginning on the 12th May 2016 in Lagos, Borders-Within have since been weaving their way through the country, producing an intricate storyboard of images and text that, through personal engagement, reflect the stories of those they meet, whilst unpacking their own subjectivities within this complex pool of post-colonial narrative. 

'Categorically Speaking' By Valerie Kabov

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"The terms ‘Africa’ and ‘African diaspora’ appear to sit neatly side by side, certainly when it comes to genre categorisations in contemporary art. Whole institutions are devoted to the very subject, such as MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, New York). In the USA, it is the institutions devoted to African American art that have taken the lead in engaging with African contemporary art. This makes sense on many easily apprehended levels: shared (racial) history, similar histories of oppression and the struggle against it. While the relationship is very real and important, it defies the ideas of category merge, in which all segments are presented as part of a catchall," writes Valerie Kabov in this positioning piece for the latest installment of ART AFRICA, 'The North American Issue'.

Lionel Smit unveils 'MORPHOUS' in Union Square, New York

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MORPHOUS, a double-headed bronze sculpture by South African artist Lionel Smit, will be installed in Union Square, New York from June 13, 2016 through April 30, 2017. Brought together in collaboration with Cynthia Reeves, NYC Parks, the Union Square Partnership, and Art Miami / Art New York, this will be the artist’s first public art installation in the United States, and will be complemented by an exhibition of his work at Cynthia-Reeves Gallery venue from July-August 2016. 

'The Ease of Fiction:' Valerie Kabov In Conversation with Dexter Wimberly

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During her time in the Big Apple for The Armory Show 2016, Valerie Kabov spoke to Dexter Wimberly, New York-based independent curator and fervent art fan, about his recent exhibition titled ‘The Ease of Fiction’ held at CAM Raleigh, North Carolina. Through his practice over the years Wimberly has been peeling back the layers of his own cultural upbringing (as an African American) and the connection between Black Americans, Africa and the diaspora – going deeper and deeper into this connection – but all the while simultaneously engaging with other topics and areas of interest in order to support emerging artists without restricting their own practice and interests.

'Another Neglected Tradition:' A Positioning Piece by Sean O'Toole

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In 1940, at age sixteen, James Baldwin knocked on the door of painter Beauford Delaney’s cold-water apartment at 181 Greene Street in Soho. Baldwin was not yet the famous man of letters and activist he is now remembered as, merely a scrawny teen working, as he would later write, a “Dickensian job” after school in a sweatshop on Canal Street. For his part, Delaney was in his mid-30s and Life-magazine famous, which was a big deal in pre-television America. Two years before Baldwin met his creative mentor, Life featured Delaney in an article headlined ‘Negroes: The U.S. Also Has a Minority Problem.’ Delaney, who escaped the dead-end prospects of a Knoxville shoeshine boy after his youthful drawings caught the eye of a local artist, was pictured surrounded by his canvases at the annual outdoor exhibition in Washington Square. He was identified as “one of the most talented Negro painters,” a pejorative summation that this remarkable colourist far exceeded, both in his life and work.

'Making Space' at Greatmore Studios

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Yesterday was an important day for artistic practice in South Africa and the rest of the continent, or at least it could be. Crowded into the newly renovated Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, a congregation of artists, writers, gallerists, curators, educators and facilitators sat down to an aptly titled panel discussion, ‘Making Space.’

'Sassa' at Gallery 1957 in Ghana: An interview with Zohra Opoku

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Zohra Opoku's exhibition 'Sassa' opens next week (10th June) at the new Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana, following a month-long residency with the cultural research platform ANO. Titled 'Sassa', the exhibition exapnds across installation, performance and lens-based media, exploring the role of textile culture in the materialisation of concepts beyond the individual’s corporeal reality.

'They Are Greeting:' Helen Sebidi at Everard Read, Johannesburg

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In Sepedi, the pronoun ‘they’ conveys high respect, especially toward royalty and the elders. Back in the day, a person of higher rank — especially a chief or an elder — would be addressed as ‘they,’ instead of the commonly used Eurocentric greeting ‘you.’  In many African cultures, greetings don’t exclude the dead and animals. ‘They Are Greeting,’ a solo exhibition by the celebrated African artist Helen Sebidi at the Everard Read Gallery, speaks to the untold and forgotten realities of the cultural and philosophical thinking and living patterns of Africans.


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