Central Africa

Exhibitions For You This June

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Exhibitions hit differently in June and you have the radiant warmth wrapping us in its embrace to blame. Summer is almost here, which means some of us are going to have free time on our hands. In order not to stay idle, why don’t you move around a bit and see some good art exhibitions. From paintings, to meaningful sculptures to beautifully thought-out collages, exhibitions can pull out different sides of you. And this makes them more exciting.

Here are must-see exhibitions this June?

Ancient Nubia: Art of the 25th Dynasty from the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
From 2 June – 3 September, 2023
Vessel in the Shape of a Bound Oryx, early seventh century BCE. Image courtesy of The High Museum of Art.

For nearly three thousand years, a series of kingdoms flourished in the Sudanese Nile Valley—a region known in antiquity as Kush and by modern scholars as Nubia. Ancient Nubian trade networks reached across the Mediterranean to Greece and Rome and far into central Africa. In the eighth century BCE, Nubian kings based at the capital city of Napata conquered neighboring Egypt, and for nearly a century, controlled one of the largest empires in antiquity. The Nubians built major cities, temples, palaces, and more pyramids than the Egyptians. Their artists and craftspeople created magnificent jewelry, pottery, metalwork, furniture, and sculpture. Yet for many people today, this powerful history remains little known. 

The High Museum of Art presents Ancient Nubia: Art of the 25th Dynasty. The exhibition holds two hundred works of art, all from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, made during the peak of Nubian power. The exhibition features masterpieces that highlight the skill, artistry, and innovation of Napatan makers and reflect the wealth and power of their kings and queens. For much of the century since their discovery, the significance of these objects was not fully realized, leading them to be interpreted as merely derivative of Egyptian material culture. Only in recent decades has a more accurate history of mutual influence among these civilizations come to be thoroughly researched, appreciated, and understood.

Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers, Royal Academy of Arts
From 17 March – 18 June 2023
Ralph Griffin, ‘Eagle’ (detail), 1988. Found wood, nails, paint, 88.9 x 110.5 x 55.9 cm. Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta. Courtesy of ARS, NY and DACS, London 2023, Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio.

Discover the Black artists from the Southeastern United States who created some of the most spectacular and ingenious works of the last century. 

For generations, Black artists from the American South have forged a unique art tradition. Working in near isolation from established practices, they have created masterpieces that articulate America’s painful past – the inhuman practice of enslavement, the cruel segregationist policies of the Jim Crow era, and institutionalised racism. 

Drawing its title from the work of Langston Hughes, Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers brings together sculpture, paintings, reliefs, drawings, and quilts, most of which will be seen in the UK and Europe for the first time. It will also feature the celebrated quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama and the neighbouring communities of Rehoboth and Alberta. 

Made from the materials available locally – like clay, driftwood, roots, soil, recycled and cast-off objects – the 64 works range from the mid 20th century to today. Many respond to issues that are global in nature: from economic inequality, oppression and social marginalisation, to sexuality, the influence of place and ancestral memory. 

Artists include Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Joe Minter, Hawkins Bolden, Bessie Harvey, Charles Williams, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, Mary Lee Bendolph, Marlene Bennett Jones, Martha Jane Pettway, Loretta Pettway, and Henry and Georgia Speller.

Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in collaboration with Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta.

iiNtsika zeSizwe, Southern Guild
From 15 May – 29 July, 2023
Zizipho Poswa,, Mam’uNoBongile, 2023, Bronze, Edition of 5, 132 x 84 x 60 cm. Image courtesy of the artist and Southern Guild.

Southern Guild and Galerie56 present iiNtsika zeSizwe (Pillars of the Nation), a solo exhibition of bronze sculptures by Zizipho Poswa, opening on Monday, May 15 at Galerie56 in Manhattan’s TriBeCa. This is the South African ceramic artist’s debut solo presentation in the United States, as well as her first collection of work made entirely in bronze.

Poswa’s monumental sculptures are bold declarations of African womanhood. She is inspired by her Xhosa heritage and the life-sustaining roles that African women play in traditional and contemporary life. iiNtsika zeSizwe expands on the thematic interests of Poswa’s first series of major hand-coiled ceramic sculptures, titled Umthwalo, which stacked abstract forms on top of voluminous bases to create totems symbolizing female strength and resilience. With their exuberant shapes and resplendent glazes, these sculptures elevate to heroic status the everyday practice of ‘umthwalo’ – the isiXhosa word for ‘load’ – whereby women transport heavy items on foot by carrying them on their heads.

One that includes myth, Goodman Gallery
2 – 28 June, 2023
Laura Lima, Iara, 2023, Raw cotton threads, natural dying (senna, seven sangrias, fennel, chamomile, horsetail, mate tea, black tea, annatto, sweet paprika, turmeric, coffee, red wine, red cabbage, beetroot, hibiscus flower, onion skins, tobacco, vinegar), 210 x 80 x 8 cm. Image courtesy of Goodman Gallery.

Goodman Gallery presents One that includes myth, a group exhibition about the meditative practices expressed through materiality, featuring work by thirteen contemporary artists from around the world with a focus on artists originating from the global South. The exhibition draws inspiration from a well-known statement by US novelist Alice Walker in 1983, stating that “a crazy quilt story is one that can jump back and forth in time and work on many different levels, and one that can include myth”.

Walker provides a salient framework for considering how traditional handwork can be a tool for the way in which these contemporary artists’ play with ideas of time. Works throughout the exhibition reference cultural practices that have been on the precipice of being lost, which have been preserved through a contemporary lens. whose works use meditative and manual processes to consider nonlinear approaches to time in relation to ‘post’-colonialism and traditional forms of making from South Africa to Ghana and Malaysia.

Ghada Amer | El Anatsui | Elizabet Cerviño | Leonardo Drew | Vibha Galhotra | Yee I-Lann | Remy Jungerman | Kapwani Kiwanga | Laura Lima | Tabita Rezaire | Naama Tsabar | Osman Yousefzada

Author

Bardi Osobuanomola Catherine is a budding storyteller. Her academic credentials include a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Benin. She has contributed to numerous Art publications across Africa. She is currently a Writer for Art News Africa.

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