Exhibition exploring Figuration in Contemporary African Art starts the year for Strauss & Co
Figuration is a powerful conceptual thread linking historical, traditional, modernist, and contemporary art in Africa. Strauss & Co’s first offering of the year will be a prestigious non-selling exhibition, titled Giving Direction: Figuration, Past and Present. On view at the historical homestead of Welgemeend in Cape Town, the exhibition and its accompanying schedule of events will run from Monday 14 to Sunday 20 February 2022, timed to coincide with the Investec Cape Town Art Fair. Accompanying the exhibition will be an in-depth exhibition catalogue, with a foreword written by accomplished art critic and writer, Nkgopoleng Moloi.
“This exhibition is not an historical survey of figurative art from the continent,” explains Strauss & Co researcher and exhibition co-curator, Leigh Leyde. “Rather, it aims to ask questions and contribute to the dialogue around African-ness, as an essential identity marker, and to showcase a post-modern contemporary art praxis that uses figuration as a means of articulating, critiquing and transgressing personal and public representations and stereotypes.” Museum-quality works by contemporary artists who are making their mark internationally will be on show, including Georgina Gratrix, William Kentridge, Lutanda Zemba Luzamba, Cinga Samson, Yinka Shonibare, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Billie Zangewa, and Portia Zvavahera.
LEFT: Portia Zvavahera, Zvikomborero. Private Collection. RIGHT: Yinka Shonibare, Butterfly Kid (Girl) IV. Private Collection.
LEFT: Cinga Samson, iRhorho IV. Private Collection. RIGHT: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Wishes above Needs. Private Collection.
Twentieth century stalwarts Ben Enwonwu, Sydney Kumalo, Maggie Laubser, Noria Mabasa, George Pemba, Gerard Sekoto and Irma Stern will also be represented, with works in a variety of media including oil on canvas and sculpture. A strong showing by artists who use photography as a means of expression will interest collectors of works on paper, with iconic images by Jabulani Dhlamini, David Goldblatt, Pieter Hugo, Nandipha Mntambo and Zanele Muholi vying for attention.
LEFT: Zanele Muholi, Cebo II, Philadelphia (from the Somnyama Ngonyama series). Private Collection RIGHT: Irma Stern, Dakar Woman.
Strauss & Co senior art specialist Wilhelm van Rensburg stresses that “figuration operates on a stylistic continuum, with, at the one end, naturalistic optical representation, and at the other, purely conceptual, or abstract expression.” A special treat will be the ‘traditional’ African artworks included in the diverse selection, including a Chokwe chief’s stool from Angola, a pair of Chokwe Tuponya figures made in Zambia and a maternity figure carved by an unrecorded Makonde artist in northern Mozambique or Tanzania.
LEFT: Teresa Kutala Firmino, The God behind the Glass, Private Collection. RIGHT: Artist Unrecorded, A Pair of Chokwe Tuponya Figures, Zambia, Private Collection.
A highlight on 16 February, the opening night of the exhibition, will be a performance by exciting young multi-disciplinary artist Teresa Kutala Firmino (Everard Read Gallery), whose work deals with the role of memory as a repository of information and a springboard for the act of rewriting histories.
Wondering how much your own art and collectables are worth? Strauss & Co’s team of art specialists will be on hand for valuations and consultations at Welgemeend on Tuesday 15 February from 9h00 to 16h00. Email: email@example.com
View the exhibition catalogue: https://shared.straussart.co.za/catalogues/2022/giving-direction/
The exhibition will be on view from the 14th until the 20th of February 2022 in Welgemeend, 2 Welgemeend Street, Gardens, Cape Town. Open daily from 9h00 to 16h00, open to all, no entrance fee.