If you’re doing First Thursdays Cape Town on 7 December, don’t miss the fresh South African talent on exhibition at the AVA Gallery. The seven artists that immersed themselves in Nando’s Creative Exchange administered by Spier Arts Trust present two very different group exhibitions at the AVA Gallery. Look upstairs, look downstairs, and take some time to think it all through somewhere in-between.
Upstairs, the ‘Moving Still’ exhibition by Elsabé Milandri, Emalie Bingham and Emma Nourse transports visitors into the inner landscapes and subconscious thought paths that were the artists’ common departure point for this group exhibition. Each artist took the approach of mark making as a form of meditation and discovery, while each pushed their practice in interesting ways.
Elsabé doesn’t usually use green in her colour palette, so created two works using green that put her in an uncomfortably creative place. Another of her works with transposed handwriting reflects her approach of pushing boundaries and overcoming blocks by stepping out of routine. Elsabé also currently has a solo ‘Wind Shifts at Eight’ on across the road at Smith Studio, so be sure to pop in there too for more of her vulnerably adventurous works
Emalie Bingham exhibits five beautiful works, with three exhibiting the counterbalance of restraint and untamed creativity that makes her work endlessly intriguing, one work that pushes all restraint aside in a cacophony of emotion, colour and form and a fifth work of an earthquake that holds fascinating elements of both approaches. Each work needs to be appreciated as a whole, and then scrutinized centimetre by centimetre. There is so much there you’ll discover some new beauty every time you delve into these beautiful pieces.
Emma Nourse used silk as her canvas for the first time, experimenting with paint and thread on this new surface. The finished silk works are endless in that as light moves during the day, the shadows cast behind the translucent works shift and change. While ‘still’ on the walls, the sub-work of shadow is constantly ‘moving’.
Downstairs, Sandile ‘Ashar’ Mhlongo, Boyce Magandela, Fikile Mqhayi and Lindile Magunya present ‘Assemblage’. Each artwork created references an ‘Assemblage’ of two- and three-dimensional elements that reference each artists direct environment.
Boyce Magandela has painted large-scale portraits of women on traditional Xhosa and Basutho blankets. The characterful women featured on Basutho blankets wear Xhosa blankets around their shoulders, while the women featured on Xhosa blankets wear Basutho blankets, cross pollinating a common cultural practice. It’s the first time Boyce has used blankets as canvas, and there is unmistakable magic and story in these richly textured works. From near and far you’ll find yourself wrapped up in them.
Sandile ‘Ashar’ Mhlongo
A brave, unusual colour palette and intriguing angles and perspective make Sandile Mhlongo’s work distinctly memorable. In this exhibition his focus on wrecked cars brings a sexy Quinten Tarantino-esque edge to his self-expression. During the Nando’s Creative Exchange, Ashar switched his focus from painting cars in motion as a metaphor for the movement of reaching dreams, to scrapped vehicles. In this he sees the potential of starting anew, with the hope and possibility of recycling and reinventing what was, into something fresh and future forward.
Lindile Magunya was the artist who was the catalyst for Nando’s Creative Exchange being reinvented as a mentored group programme that culminated in an exhibition. Lindile saw the need for artists with limited experience in exhibiting, to live the experience of developing a group show for exhibition in a contemporary gallery context. As a member of Nando’s Artists Society he approached Spier Arts Trust with his thoughts. The response was to reinvent Nando’s Creative Exchange as an artist-career development programme with a group focus. The exhibitions currently showing at the AVA are the first result of this programme, with the hope that the skills development and exposure artists receive will have a positive onward ripple effect beyond the exhibition itself. In light of his activist approach in helping to create this opportunity for himself and his artist peers, it’s not surprising to note that Lindile’s work comments on his frustration with contemporary society and his refusal to ignore the everyday issues that surround him.
Shoes found in his neighbourhood, Delft, in Cape Town, are the subject matter of this body of work created by Fikile during a time of personal loss and grief. The shoes symbolize the souls of people both known and unknown. This collection puzzles together place and time, life and death, and personal insight on political and socio-economical matters. Essentially, these works in oil and acrylic are an empathetic rendering of the human condition.
Nando’s Creative Exchange in partnership with Spier Arts Trust runs at the AVA Gallery until 9 December.
This post was made possible by Nando’s.