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Africa's Top 10 Exhibitions to Get Excited About in 2015
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Africa's Top 10 Exhibitions to Get Excited About in 2015

Picture of Rebecca Steel
Updated: 13 November 2015
What can you expect from Africa’s exhibition schedule in 2015? Retrospectives of the popular works of Penny Siopis, Peter Schütz, Malika Agueznay and Alice Elahi are just a few of the highlights. These upcoming exhibitions offer a diverse array of techniques and media, showcasing the talents of many artists, from newly emerging stars to well-established icons. Here is a selection of some of the best African art shows on the 2015 calendar to please all art lovers.
Basim Magdy, "The Cautious Passing of Light Through Endless Layers of Forgiveness", c-print from a chemically altered negative on metallic paper, 82 x 100 cm, 2014 | Image courtesy of the artist and Gypsum Gallery
Basim Magdy, “The Cautious Passing of Light Through Endless Layers of Forgiveness”, c-print from a chemically altered negative on metallic paper, 82 x 100 cm, 2014 | Image courtesy of the artist and Gypsum Gallery


Malika Agueznay at Villa des Arts de Casablanca, Morocco

18 December 2014 – 15 February 2015

Pioneer of contemporary Moroccan art, Malika Agueznay was educated at Casablanca’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the late 1960s and has since exhibited internationally. Her retrospective exhibition at Villa des Arts showcases her trademark colorful works featuring dream-like shapes in entrancing compositions. Appearing abstract at first, these creations are often inspired by organic forms, like seaweed, or what she refers to as ‘algae.’ In a nod to Moroccan culture, Agueznay’s paintings and engravings sometimes feature Arabic script as a stylized calligraphy. Presented by the cultural platforms La Fondation CDG and La Fondation ONA, this eye-catching retrospective is displayed in the elegant gallery of the Art Deco-era Villa des Arts de Casablanca.

Villa des Arts de Casablanca, 30 Boulevard Brahim Roudani, Casablanca, Morocco, +212 522 29 50 87

Penny Siopis, "Blush:Scarlet", oil, mixed media and found objects on paper, 100 x 140 cm, 2005 | Image courtesy of Iziko Museums
Penny Siopis, “Blush:Scarlet”, oil, mixed media and found objects on paper, 100 x 140 cm, 2005 | Image courtesy of Iziko Museums



Penny Siopis at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town

17 December 2014 – 10 March 2015

The South African National Gallery is the prestigious venue for ‘Time and Again,’ the much-anticipated retrospective of works by Penny Siopis, one of the country’s best-known artists. Siopis portrays personal and collective histories, sometimes using the placement of mysterious objects to comment on issues surrounding gender, colonialism and discrimination. The passing of time is a key theme in her works, which often explore feelings of shame and loss, or the trauma experienced by South Africans. This exhibition surveys a broad selection of Siopis’ artistic output, from early ‘Cake’ paintings, to her ‘History’ paintings, ‘Shame’ and ‘Pinky Pinky’ series. More recent ink and glue paintings will also be on show, as well as thought-provoking films and object-filled installations.

Iziko South African National Gallery, Government Avenue, Company’s Garden, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 481 3970



Kemang Wa Lehulere/ Olafur Eliasson at Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa

22 January – 28 February 2015

Stevenson gallery in Cape Town hosts a new solo show by South African, Kemang Wa Lehulere, who was chosen as the 2015 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art. Titled ‘To whom it may concern,’ the exhibition is a response to the Fluxus-style piece named ‘Spatial Poem No 3 (Falling Event)’ by Japanese artist Mieko (Chieko) Shiomi. Using sculpture, video and other media, Wa Lehulere explores the idea of falling, both literally and metaphorically, whilst connecting real moments in space and time. Running simultaneously is an exhibition called ‘Space Minding’ by the internationally renowned sculptor and installation artist Olafur Eliasson. At Stevenson, he presents works that cleverly manipulate light with a lens, or investigate visual effects using colored planes of glass.

Stevenson, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 462 1500

Basim Magdy, "Fate Brought Us to the Shores of a Lava Lake at Dawn (no. 1)", c-print from a chemically altered negative on metallic paper, 82 x 100 cm, 2014 | Image courtesy of the artist and Gypsum Gallery
Basim Magdy, “Fate Brought Us to the Shores of a Lava Lake at Dawn (no. 1)”, c-print from a chemically altered negative on metallic paper, 82 x 100 cm, 2014 | Image courtesy of the artist and Gypsum Gallery



Basim Magdy at Gypsum Gallery, Cairo, Egypt

18 November 2014 – 30 January 2015

Gypsum Gallery presents Basim Magdy’s solo show ‘Measuring the Last Breaths of Time on a Fading Scale.’ The relationship between time and nature is highlighted in a series of sublime landscapes, where colors are distorted by exposing photographic film to household chemicals. A short cinematic film shot on Super 8 is the second component of Magdy’s mind-stretching exhibition. Called ‘Time Laugh Back at You Like a Sunken Ship’ (2012), it features a young man exploring a botanical garden through a series of reflections, blending together reality, memories, apparitions and the unconscious in a universe where time is an atmospheric space. The works of Egyptian-born Magdy have featured in numerous international shows and won awards such as Dubai’s Abraaj Art Prize 2014.

Gypsum Gallery, 5a Bahgat Ali Street, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, +201 002 864 207



‘Permanent Collection’ at RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, Dakar, Senegal

10 November 2014 – 7 March 2015

Consisting of a resource center, gallery, restaurant and residency space, RAW MATERIAL COMPANY is an innovative new center for contemporary art in Dakar, Senegal. Since April 2011, it has organized 14 exhibitions, two international symposiums, and edited ten publications on the role of artistic thought and practice in society. As part of the Partcours annual event, ‘Permanent Collection’ is an exhibition celebrating these achievements, featuring works donated by artists from the very beginning. The collection presents exciting pieces in various media by artists A Kassen, Alexis Peskine, George Osodi, Ibrahima Kebe, Issa Samb, Mansour Ciss, Melvin Edwards, Olafur Eliasson, Otobong Nkanga, Souleymane Keita, Vincent Michéa and Zen Marie.

RAW MATERIAL COMPANY, 4074 bis Sicap Amitié 2, Dakar, Senegal, +221 33 864 0248

Rembrandt van Rijn, "The Three Crosses", drypoint, 1653 | Image courtesy of Iziko Museums
Rembrandt van Rijn, “The Three Crosses”, drypoint, 1653 | Image courtesy of Iziko Museums


Rembrandt at Iziko Old Town House, Cape Town, South Africa

3 October 2014 – 28 March 2015

Rembrandt van Rijn’s etchings, on display at the Old Town House, are amongst some of the finest works to emerge from the 1600s. Yet his artistic pursuits were not fully appreciated until almost two centuries later. This exhibition brings together Rembrandt’s prints from major institutional collections in South Africa, celebrating their innovative and experimental quality. As the title of this exhibition claims, Rembrandt was certainly a ‘Pioneer Printmaker of Humanity and Modernity’ as well as a masterful painter. The Cape Rococo building of the Old Town House is also home to the Michaelis Collection, a historically important selection of works by Dutch and Flemish masters from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Iziko Old Town House, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 481 3933


Alice Elahi at The Pretoria Art Museum, South Africa

7 February – 26 April 2015

Pretoria-based Alice Elahi has depicted the dramatic natural beauty of African scenery since falling in love with Namibia in the 1980s. A retrospective of her work, titled ‘Landscape Through An Artist’s Eyes,’ will be on display at The Pretoria Art Museum, which specializes in national art. Having studied in London under Zdzislaw Ruszkowski, Elahi returned to South Africa, becoming one of the country’s much-loved landscape artists featured in various public and private collections. Working in watercolor, mixed media and oil, Elahi’s early figurative pieces are later complemented by studies of flowers, the Cape coastline and African Bushveld. Yet her most common subject has been the wilderness of Namibia’s desert interior and Skeleton Coast.

The Pretoria Art Museum, Cnr Schoeman and Wessels Str, Arcadia Park, Arcadia, Pretoria, South Africa, +27 12 358 6750


Fatima Al Yousef, from the series "Thekrayat" (Memories)
Fatima Al Yousef, from the series “Thekrayat” (Memories) | Courtesy of The Goethe Institut, Tunisia


‘NEXT TO HERE’ at B’chira Art Center, near Tunis, Tunisia

January 2015

‘NEXT TO HERE’ presents the works of 19 emerging photographers from North Africa and the Middle East. The young photographers were selected from ten workshops in ten cities across the region between 2013 and 2014. German and Arabic photographers conducted the workshops, which initially focused on the relationship between humans and nature. ‘NEXT TO HERE’ is the result of collaborations between several cultural organizations being presented at B’chira Art Center, a stylish new venue for contemporary art in Tunisia. A project conceived by artist Bchira Triki Bouazizi, the B’chira Art Center has a multi-disciplinary approach to the arts, offering workshops, events and large, modern exhibition spaces both indoors and outdoors.

B’chira Art Center, Sabelet Ben Ammar, Sidi Thabet, Ariana, Tunisia, +216 70 527 767


Lionel Smit at Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa

4 – 17 February 2015

Born in Pretoria in 1982, Lionel Smit developed a well-regarded reputation for his contemporary portraits soon after leaving art school at Pro Arte Alphen Park. He is best known for his bold close-ups of faces produced on large-scale canvasses or as textured sculptures. Smit has exhibited widely in South Africa and at global art fairs. His painting Kholiswa (2013) received the Visitors’ Choice Award and featured on publicity material for the BP Portrait Award 2013. Smit’s highly collectable works appear in a solo exhibition at Cape Town’s Everard Read gallery in February. Founded in Johannesburg in 1913, Everard Read is South Africa’s oldest commercial gallery, showcasing the talents of both established and emerging contemporary artists from home and abroad.

Everard Read, 3 Portswood Road, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 21 418 4527



Peter Schütz at Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa

May 2015 – July 2015

The Wits Art Museum pays tribute to the German-born artist Peter Schütz (1942 – 2008) with an exhibition of his iconic sculptures. Despite living a quiet and modest life, Schütz was an acclaimed sculptor and teacher, maintaining studios in KwaZulu-Natal and at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). His early work addressed issues such as environmental degradation, later followed by pieces concerning religion, the female form and the dignity of labor. Schütz worked predominantly with wood, carving and painting beautiful sacred-looking beings, which exposed his fascination with ritual. He became well known for paying homage to workers in under-appreciated professions, depicting rick-saw pullers and waiting staff as saintly figures, in his favorite jelutong wood.

Wits Art Museum, University Corner, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa, +27 11 717 1365

By Rebecca Steel