Central Africa

Contemporary Sculptors In Africa

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Artistic expressions are references to an artist’s engagement with their society. Sculpting is the process of creating a work of art by bending and altering objects till it takes a new shape. Artists often gather their raw materials -mostly used- from their immediate environment to sculpt lasting art pieces, document the history of the place, and interrogate the norm while exploring their imaginations of a new and improved version of the world in their works.

Here are some of the sculptors that have been on our radar in the last years: 

Cyrus Kabiru

Macho Nne African Star, 2018, C-Type Print on Diasec Mount, 100 x 90 cm
Image courtesy of 1-54

Kenyan self-taught sculptor, Cyrus Kabiru is known for self-portrait photographs of him wearing C-Stunners, his intricately designed collection of handmade eyewear which he sculpts from found materials. He is also known for his radio and bicycle-like creations. 

Kabiru’s practice pushes the boundaries of conventional sculpting, photography, design and fashion. He gets his inspiration from everyday living and his society. 

The Planet Order, 2020, Steel and Found Objects, 200 x 210 cm
Image courtesy of SMAC

You can find the artist here

Richard Atugonza

Image courtesy of the artist

Born in 1994 in Uganda, Richard Atugonza is a portrait sculptor. His current body of work consists of portraits of people in his life that he sculpts using materials found in his immediate environment such as sawdust, dried grass, and charcoal.

As a sculptor, he captures proportion, body movement, and posture to reflect people’s feelings and their interactions with their community. One particular aspect of his creative process is that he creates an atmosphere that allows him and his subjects to interact and connect on a deeper level for better understanding. 

The subject matter and materiality fuses people and environments into brittle forms which become durable through material transformation.

Quiet time, 2022, charcoal on resin, 60 x 29 x 26 cm
Image courtesy of AAG

Imperfection perfections 10, 2020, Polyethylene terephthalate cast sculpture, H36 x W65 x D14cm
Image courtesy of Arabian Bazaar

You can find the artist here

Ben Orkin 

Image courtesy of Art Formes

Born in 1998, Ben Orkin is a sculptor from Cape Town, South Africa. The artist’s use of ceramic vessels to reflect the intimacy in queer relationships oscillates between moments of nourishment and dependence, acceptance and resistance, and love and separation. In addition to the usual grainy element of his sculptures, there is an occasionally erotic quality to his sculptures. With his practice, he avoids conventional thinking and is drawn towards defining his own identity.

Ben Orkin, also known as NEBNIKRO – an inversion of his own name-, explores the fluidity of identity, categorisation, concept, and form in his works. His practice is inspired by the human form as it evolves through the experience of both spatial and interpersonal relationships.

Extra Safe, 2021, Clay and glaze, 61 x 80 x 20 cm
Image courtesy of 1-54

How to Have Sex in an Epidemic: One Approach, 2021, Clay and glaze
Image courtesy of Wall paper

The artist is represented by What If The World Gallery. You can find the artist here

Elizabeth Balcomb 

Elizabeth Balcomb is a South African artist known for her haunting figurative sculptures. Her work with clay and casts turned into bronze is a re-interpretation of classical sculptures using the language of the Renaissance to explore and expose elements of human nature. 

She incorporates aspects of dying, rebirth, identity and personal value into her work. She views the artist’s life as an existential conundrum, constantly debating the importance of her work in relation to her own value as a person and that of the natural world. 

The Powers and Principalities II, 2019
Image courtesy of The Melrose Gallery

You can find the artist here

Author

Iyanuoluwa Adenle is a graduate of Linguistics and African Languages from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a creative writer and art enthusiast with publications in several journals. She is a writer at Art News Africa.

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