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'Seven Hills:' Kampala Art Biennale 2016 Curator Élise Atangana on this year's theme

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Established by the Kampala Arts Trust in 2014, the Kampala Art Biennale has proved an important platform for exchange and growth within the local context of Kampala and beyond. The Biennale seeks to address issues of inclusion faced by artists on the continent, whilst channeling a healthy conversation around the complexities of day-to-day life within the ever-growing city of Kampala. Élise Atangana, the Artistic Director for this year's edition, speaks about the curatorial framework for this edition, entitled 'Seven Hills.'
 

'Jumping the Ditch:' A review of Henri Matisse's 'Rhythm and Meaning' at the Standard Bank Gallery

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French modern master Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) exhibition ‘Rhythm and Meaning’ opened its doors to the public on the 13th July 2016 at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. Co-curated by Patrice Deparpe and Professor Federico Freschi, and held in collaboration with the Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute and the Musée Matisse in Le Cateau Cambrésis (France), the exhibition comprises of drawings, paintings, collages and prints, and is the first wide-ranging exhibition of Matisse’s work to be held in South Africa.

'A Grand Way To Fall:' Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi's 'Window Part II' at Barnard Gallery, Cape Town By Ashraf Jamal

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A window is an aperture, a screen; connecting, dividing. The history of illusion in painting is connected with the idea of the framed window. Here the Barnard Gallery has noted the importance of Leon Battista Albertus’ 1435 study, De Pictura, and the shaping influence of the Quattrocento System central to Renaissance painting in which the Eye – yours and mine – is kept at the centre of the picture plane and allowed to become the allpowerful surveyor of the world. That Eye is also the Ego, which in the 18th century spirited the birth of individualism.

'I Invented Myself:' Walter Battiss at the Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg

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Upon walking into the exhibition, you are welcomed by a collection of landscape paintings and a curiosity in rock art, a quirky installation of work conceived in response to censorship and an intimate curating of wood cut prints at the basement of the Wits Art Museum. Amongst other artworks, pamphlets, catalogues, photographs and memorabilia, the installation forms part of Walter Battiss’ retrospective exhibition: ‘I Invented Myself ’ curated by Warren Siebrits of the Jack Ginsberg Collection. 

'1994:' Pieter Hugo at the Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town

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A lithe figure reclines in a gold, sequined cocktail dress that reaches to her knees. But for her dress, the girl is androgynous. She is positioned like Manet’s Olympia on a bank of loam. The wet ground around her is the same brown as her skin. I am mesmerised by the roots, worming their way through the soil beneath her form. She meets your gaze with a fashionista’s rueful scowl while creepers, with tendrils and heartshaped-leaves, infiltrate the frame.

‘Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity’ at UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria

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Is it not slightly self-defeating for African curators to foreground the identity of the artists as the central curatorial thrust for an exhibition of art from the continent? This mirrors the manner in which African art is promoted on global stages, with the provenance of the art or the geographical origins of the artists almost always framing their work. Conceived by !Kauru in association with the Black Collectors Forum, 'Being and Becoming: Complexities of the African Identity' took place at the UNISA Art Gallery in Pretoria, South Africa, and mimics this trend, while trying to usurp and take 'ownership' of how African identity is advanced. It seems that for as long as African art is advanced on European or American platforms (and by auction houses) as a discrete category, or worse, a genre of contemporary art, perhaps African artists will remain locked into a dialogue around their identity. Or have we turned a corner, allowing for this theme to be explored in new ways?

'Met Ander Oë,' Larita Engelbrecht at EBONY Curated: 01 September - 29 October 2016

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Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1986, Larita Engelbrecht has been involved in academia for most of her life. In 2009 she received a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch, followed by an MA in Visual Art three years later. In addition to her work as a visual artist, Engelbrecht is now a senior lecturer at Cape Town Creative Academy. This proximity to knowledge, or more accurately, the systems and processes that have come to define and transpose knowledge, forms the basis for her latest body of work ‘Met Ander Oë,’ which will be exhibited at EBONY Curated in Cape Town from the 1st September until the 29th October.

Nolan Oswald Dennis announced as FNB Art Prize winner

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Amongst the exhibiting artists at this year's FNB JoburgArtFair, set to take place between the 9th - 11th September 2016, is this year's FNB Art Prize winner, Nolan Oswald Dennis. Comprised of Zimbabwean curator and director of the Zimbabwean National Gallery in Harare, Raphael Chikukwa, FNB JoburgArtFair curator Lucy MacGarry, and Angolan architect and curator Paula Nascimento, this year's jury were given the opporunity to select one nominated artist from each of the participating galleries' stands. Represented by the Goodman Gallery, Dennis joins a prestigious list of winners since the launch of the FNB Art Prize in 2011, and will be showcasing his work in a dedicated space at the FNB JoburgArtFair.

Picturing Power: Allison K. Young In Conversation with Bradley McCallum

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Bradley McCallum is a Brooklyn-based artist whose practice has long been politically and socially-engaged. The international tour of his ‘Weights and Measures’ series, which addresses questions of social justice through the lens of the International Criminal Court, will launch at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg in February 2017. A selection of his ‘reversal’ paintings from this series – large-scale portraits of criminal defendants rendered in a grisaille, almost solarised palette – was also on view at ‘Still (the) Barbarians,’ at the 2016 EVA Biennial in Limerick, Ireland, curated by Koyo Kouoh. Depicting gures as diverse as Congolese militia leader German Katanga and South African jurist Navi Pillay, the series navigates the humanity of the justice system from the perspective of defendants, justice advocates and victims. Allison K. Young spoke with McCallum about the ‘Weights and Measures’ series and its forthcoming debut in South Africa.

Artists' Books and Africa: By Petra Mason

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Far from the razzmatazz of New York City’s art scene – and only a two and a half hour train ride away – in the nation’s capital of Washington DC, is the National Museum of African Art. It’s a post-modern jewel of a building tucked away between the Arthur. M Sackler Gallery for Asian Art and the Air and Space Museum. Washington DC is largely home to admin staff and the secret service, so it can be a bit vanilla, à la Pretoria (in South Africa). But it is one of the world’s greatest cities and one that houses many of the nation’s top museums. And because the Federal Government owns them, entrance is free. ‘Artists’ Books and Africa,’ curated by Janet Stanley, is showcased at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art until September 11, 2016.

From Hero to Zero: An Artist’s Take on South African Politicians

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Cape Town artist, Campbell Lak, takes a playful take on past and current major political events by transforming beloved comic book characters. From ‘JjACOB ZUMA THE ORIGINAL ZUMATELLO’ (above) and ‘NELSON MANDELA IS SUPER-MAN’, Lak brings a fresh approach to the country’s ever-so-gloom democratic soap story.  

'PERCEPTION': EL SEED

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 ART AFRICA met with the French-Tunisian graffiti artist EL SEED about his latest project 'Perception', the value of space in the workshop and the role of graffiti in the transition in Tunisia. 

AtWork: De Dak’Art à Addis Ababa

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Il est important d'engendrer cette nouvelle génération qui construira l’avenir auquel nous aspirons tous. L’heure est venue pour une nouvelle révolution en Afrique. Et la seule arme que nous possédonspour mener cette révolution est notre cerveau, notre capacité à réfléchir. – Simon Njami 

Simon Njami, célèbre intellectuel, critique et commissaire d’exposition, en collaboration avec lettera27, une fondation artistique à but non lucratif, souhaite inspirer une nouvelle génération de penseurs en Afrique à travers AtWork, un projet éducatif qui se sert du processus créatif pour stimuler la pensée critique chez les étudiants. Sous la direction d’artistes-mentors de renom, les étudiants participant à des ateliers collectifs d’une durée de trois à cinq semaines explorent un thème choisi qui leur permet de créer des rapports personnels et interculturels. 

'Orune tempête souffle du paradis:' Une entrevue avec Sara Raza

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ART AFRICA s’est entretenu avec Sara Raza, Commissaire de Guggenheim UBS MAP pour le Moyen-Orient et l’Afrique du Nord – qui nous a apporté un éclairage sur son travail en tant que commissaire d’exposition et les pratiques artistiques contemporaines du Moyen-Orient, de l’Afrique du Nord et de la diaspora de la région. 

'Getting Intimate': Houghton Kinsman In Conversation with Betti-Sue Hertz

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I first met Betti-Sue Hertz in 2015 at the San Francisco Art Institute. As we awaited a talk by cultural practitioner William Cordova – someone I had worked closely with as an educator at MoCA Miami – I learned of the long collaborative history between the two practitioners. It was heartwarming to hear them catch up, talk about the first exhibition they’d done together and the excitement around Cordova’s recent visit to the Headlands Center for the Arts residency programme in the Bay Area, where Hertz was Interim Director of Programmes. It was this moment that reaffirmed for me the beauty inherent in art, for bringing different people together to share conversations, ideas, and form lifelong friendships.
 

'Mastry:' Kerry James Marshall at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

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‘Mastry,’ Kerry James Marshall’s survey exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, feels like a full-circle moment for the city, putting into sharp focus the stakes of the representation of bodies of colour.

Chicago is experiencing a steady rise in gun violence that may be related to the institutional chaos in the wake of the October 2015 release of a video showing the police shooting Laquan Macdonald, an unarmed black teen. The video of Macdonald’s murder was looped countless times on news stations and web platforms, an endless falling of a young, black male’s body: the image drew protestors out onto the streets.

The Black Art Incubator Is Staging a Much-Needed Art-World Intervention

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“This is not about selling people crap they don’t need—it’s about communicating about artwork,” said artist and activist Dread Scott towards the end of a talk last Thursday on how artists should market themselves. Some 15 people had gathered at The Black Art Incubator in New York to hear the self-described revolutionary communist discuss the nitty-gritty of getting your work seen, understood, and, to some extent, sold. In the leadup to the talk, Scott had been in the headlines for his "A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday" flag, which attracted both support and death threats. I’d interviewed him about the piece the day before, and as I listened to him give advice to the group, I realized I had unknowingly been on the receiving end of the tips and techniques he was now championing to other artists—availability, clarity of communication, and a navigable artist website among them.  

Bright Young Things: Sarah Schumann & Aidan Tobias

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I recently found myself at The Work Hub in Woodstock’s industrial area (Cape Town) with my fourteen-year-old daughter and her two sixteen-year-old friends. It was their idea that we see the second incarnation of ‘Strangers on Film,’ an ongoing project run by organisers and curators Aidan Tobias and Sarah Schumann.
 
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