This Exhibition Explores the Artistic Borders of Pan-Africanism

Photo of Patrizia Litty
10 May 2017

This series of visual art exhibitions, expresses a more inclusive viewpoint. It reaches beyond African descent and skin colour—a relevant response to recent xenophobic attacks where migrants were not only excluded but violated.

‘Pan Africa, series1’ showcases 17 artists from six countries and is on show until April 30, 2017 at South Africa’s ODA Gallery, Franschhoek. The exhibition explores the incredible diversity of artistic expression on the African continent, yet a shared visual language threads the works together in a distinct African style.

Michaela Rinaldi, Distance Between, Mixed Media | Courtesy of ODA

The South African artists Michaela Rinaldi, Layziehound Coka, Mbongeni Buthelezi and Bambolwami Sibiya contribute works in different mediums with a strong focus on political and social criticism. The unique hand writing in their artworks is a remarkable characteristic of their figurative works, yet they all present a powerful ability for visual storytelling that feels so distinct to Africa.

Layziehound Coka, Irony of a Black Man in a White Suit, Mixed Media | Courtesy of ODA

Uzoma Samuel Anyanwu and Solomon Omogboye, who both stem from Nigeria, contribute vibrant, expressive paintings and fabric collages that encapsulate the continent’s ability to celebrate. “The beauty I see in every existence is my inspiration to paint”, is how Omogboye describes his acrylic-on-canvas portraits.

Left: Solomon Omogboye, Determination, Acrylic on Canvas | Right: Uzoma Anyanwu, Ifeoma, Crystal Fabric Collage | Courtesy of ODA

Mbongeni Fakudze who was born in Swaziland submitted a series of portraits of women that explore the concept of solidity versus fluidity versus “gaseousness”. He says, “he sees the world both through the microscopic eye of an atomic physicist as well as the cosmic eye of an astrophysicist.” And that his “emotional paint strokes break up the smooth surface of the canvas as well as the surface of the subject’s skin and identity.”

Mbongeni Fakudze, Blue?, Acrylic on Canvas | Courtesy ODA

Thonton Kabeya from the Democratic Republic of Congo is a finalist from the Fine Art Institute of Lubumbashi. “I am trying to push the limit and the boundary that exist between painting and sculpture. I want to change the way people look at painting. I sculpt the canvas and create my artistic language. I’m not trying to make a sculpture or a painting or mixed media technique, but find my own way to express myself and to connect with myself.”

Thonton Kabeya, Summer Series, Mixed Media | Courtesy of ODA

Lindi Badenhorst and Johannes du Plessis from South Africa surprise with their abstract works. Lindi’s color-scapes are constructed in an intuitive manner. Initial subtle layers of color lead to responses that develop by adding layer upon layer to create depth and textural complexity. Johannes du Plessis uses his distinct style to express his love of form and nature. To view his artwork is to experience the idea of space.

Left: Lindi Badenhorst, Forest Light, Acrylic on Canvas, Right: Johannes du Plessis, Nearly There, Acrylic on Canvas | Courtesy of ODA

The exhibition shows more than 40 works in an impressive double volume space situated in the center of Franschhoek known for its interesting art galleries, scenic wine farms and outstanding restaurants. The show presents a large cross section of genres, styles and cultural identity. Its concept brings to mind the famous speech “I am an African” by Thabo Mbeki, that describes all people as South Africans, whether of Indian descent, Afrikaans, San, or any other background, as long as they live on the continent. The “series 2” exhibition will be staged later in 2017.

PAN AFRICA | series1 | contemporary African art exhibition, will run from Feb 25 to April 30, 2017 at the ODA Gallery, Franschhoek, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (0)21 8763809.