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'Sacred Spaces,' Bright Young Thing: Mathias Chirombo

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“Art to me is an anecdote of the spirit, and the only means of making concrete the purpose of its varied quickness and stillness.” - Mark Rothko 

There’s something incredibly captivating about Mathias Chirombo’s work. Standing up close to his large scale painting Death of the Mermaid III (2013), I am struck by an overwhelming sense of silence. This world – deep, pulsating, blue – stretches out around me, pulling me in. Spellbound, I take a step back, curious as to how I got here. Interestingly, it is the work and words of Mark Rothko that I am inclined to fall back on. 

'...when they grow up...': Ebony G. Patterson at the Studio Museum Harlem, by Robin Scher

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A physical frequency can be felt walking into Ebony G. Patterson’s on-site installation ‘...when they grow up…’ at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Maybe this feeling is a result of the hot pink, plush carpeting or the two hundred patterned, fabric covered balloons hanging from the roof? It could also be the sudden wave of nostalgia upon entering a room scattered with familiar childhood objects. On closer inspection, the static sensation might have to do with the carefully placed human subjects: blown-up photographs of black children within a brightly coloured collage.

Borders-Within: The Trans-Nigerian Road Trip

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“A border is the declaration of an end to a thought. But nothing undermines a border like movement — to move is to shift the full-stop in a conversation.” This sentence was penned by Yinka Elujoba, one of ten participants in Invisible Borders’ latest endeavour — Borders-Within: The Trans-Nigerian Roadtrip. Beginning on the 12th May 2016 in Lagos, Borders-Within have since been weaving their way through the country, producing an intricate storyboard of images and text that, through personal engagement, reflect the stories of those they meet, whilst unpacking their own subjectivities within this complex pool of post-colonial narrative. 

'Categorically Speaking' By Valerie Kabov

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"The terms ‘Africa’ and ‘African diaspora’ appear to sit neatly side by side, certainly when it comes to genre categorisations in contemporary art. Whole institutions are devoted to the very subject, such as MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, New York). In the USA, it is the institutions devoted to African American art that have taken the lead in engaging with African contemporary art. This makes sense on many easily apprehended levels: shared (racial) history, similar histories of oppression and the struggle against it. While the relationship is very real and important, it defies the ideas of category merge, in which all segments are presented as part of a catchall," writes Valerie Kabov in this positioning piece for the latest installment of ART AFRICA, 'The North American Issue'.

Lionel Smit unveils 'MORPHOUS' in Union Square, New York

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MORPHOUS, a double-headed bronze sculpture by South African artist Lionel Smit, will be installed in Union Square, New York from June 13, 2016 through April 30, 2017. Brought together in collaboration with Cynthia Reeves, NYC Parks, the Union Square Partnership, and Art Miami / Art New York, this will be the artist’s first public art installation in the United States, and will be complemented by an exhibition of his work at Cynthia-Reeves Gallery venue from July-August 2016. 

'The Ease of Fiction:' Valerie Kabov In Conversation with Dexter Wimberly

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During her time in the Big Apple for The Armory Show 2016, Valerie Kabov spoke to Dexter Wimberly, New York-based independent curator and fervent art fan, about his recent exhibition titled ‘The Ease of Fiction’ held at CAM Raleigh, North Carolina. Through his practice over the years Wimberly has been peeling back the layers of his own cultural upbringing (as an African American) and the connection between Black Americans, Africa and the diaspora – going deeper and deeper into this connection – but all the while simultaneously engaging with other topics and areas of interest in order to support emerging artists without restricting their own practice and interests.

'Another Neglected Tradition:' A Positioning Piece by Sean O'Toole

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In 1940, at age sixteen, James Baldwin knocked on the door of painter Beauford Delaney’s cold-water apartment at 181 Greene Street in Soho. Baldwin was not yet the famous man of letters and activist he is now remembered as, merely a scrawny teen working, as he would later write, a “Dickensian job” after school in a sweatshop on Canal Street. For his part, Delaney was in his mid-30s and Life-magazine famous, which was a big deal in pre-television America. Two years before Baldwin met his creative mentor, Life featured Delaney in an article headlined ‘Negroes: The U.S. Also Has a Minority Problem.’ Delaney, who escaped the dead-end prospects of a Knoxville shoeshine boy after his youthful drawings caught the eye of a local artist, was pictured surrounded by his canvases at the annual outdoor exhibition in Washington Square. He was identified as “one of the most talented Negro painters,” a pejorative summation that this remarkable colourist far exceeded, both in his life and work.

'Making Space' at Greatmore Studios

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Yesterday was an important day for artistic practice in South Africa and the rest of the continent, or at least it could be. Crowded into the newly renovated Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, a congregation of artists, writers, gallerists, curators, educators and facilitators sat down to an aptly titled panel discussion, ‘Making Space.’

'Sassa' at Gallery 1957 in Ghana: An interview with Zohra Opoku

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Zohra Opoku's exhibition 'Sassa' opens next week (10th June) at the new Gallery 1957 in Accra, Ghana, following a month-long residency with the cultural research platform ANO. Titled 'Sassa', the exhibition exapnds across installation, performance and lens-based media, exploring the role of textile culture in the materialisation of concepts beyond the individual’s corporeal reality.

'They Are Greeting:' Helen Sebidi at Everard Read, Johannesburg

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In Sepedi, the pronoun ‘they’ conveys high respect, especially toward royalty and the elders. Back in the day, a person of higher rank — especially a chief or an elder — would be addressed as ‘they,’ instead of the commonly used Eurocentric greeting ‘you.’  In many African cultures, greetings don’t exclude the dead and animals. ‘They Are Greeting,’ a solo exhibition by the celebrated African artist Helen Sebidi at the Everard Read Gallery, speaks to the untold and forgotten realities of the cultural and philosophical thinking and living patterns of Africans.

Amref Health Africa and Paddle 8 launch online art auction in lead up to ArtBall benefit in NYC

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In the highly anticipated lead up to the first-ever ArtBall event of its kind, Amref Health Africa in the U.S. is pleased to announce that artworks are now available online through Paddle 8, a first-class collecting destination presenting online auctions of extraordinary art, design, jewelry, watches and collectibles. The inaugural Amref Health Africa ArtBall is a premier contemporary African art auction and benefit event being held on Wednesday, 8th June, 2016 from 7-10PM at 159 Bleecker Street in New York City.

'Just Now:' Yebo Contemporary Art Gallery at MTN Bushfire

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Based in Swaziland, Yebo Contemporary Art Gallery functions as a much-needed platform for established and emerging artists to showcase and sell their work. Their upcoming exhibition 'Just Now! - Neither here nor there but getting somewhere: communication from artists exploring current issues,’ (curated by Aleta Armstrong and Khulekani Msweli) will open on 27th May as part of the MTN Bushfire programme, one of the most significant cultural events in Southern Africa. 

ART AFRICA Vol.01 Iss.04: 'The North American Issue'

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Since ART AFRICA’s inception in September last year, our primary focus has been to shape a more comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of artistic practice from Africa and its diaspora, presented by a broader base of global contributors. Concluding our first year of publishing as ART AFRICA, we shift our focus to the U.S., following on from our Sub-Saharan Africa, European, Global South, and MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) focus.

Khehla Chepape Makgato reviews 'Present Standard' at Chicago Cultural Centre, USA.

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The Chicago Cultural Centre (opened in 1897) is a Chicago landmark building that houses the city’s official reception venue where the Mayor of Chicago has welcomed presidents and royalty, diplomats and community leaders. The centre, which is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes, frequently hosts free music, dance and theatre events, lectures, films, and art exhibitions. Recently the centre hosted ‘Present Standard,’ a group exhibition comprised of twenty-five contemporary U.S-based Latino artists who are, in one way or another, identified as natives. Edra Soto, Chicago-based artist, curator and gallery director and Josue Pellot, an artist based in Chicago, curated the exhibition.

Realising AtWork Addis Ababa: Simon Njami and Aïda Muluneh need you!

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Invited by Art Basel for Non-Profit Visual Arts Organisations, the lettera27 Foundation launched its first Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on April 27th in order to host the sixth chapter of AtWork, this time in Addis Ababa. Conceived by the Italian non-profit foundation lettera27 and Simon Njami, AtWork is an itinerant educational artistic format that contributes to building a new generation of thinkers, using the creative process to stimulate critical thinking and debate amongst its participants.

'Art, Conflict and Ways Of Knowing:' An interview with Oussama Rifahi by Sophia Olivia Sanan

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As the Director of the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, Oussama Rifahi has played an integral role in the development of the arts and culture sector worldwide, including the development of Abu Dhabi's ever expanding business model for tourism and culture. During this interview he speaks to arts academic and enthusiast Sophia Olivia Sanan about the successes and challenges faced by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, and the role that art plays in re-aligning 'outsiders' perceptions of life in the Middle East, following the migration crisis and the ongoing conflict in places like Syria.

'Aqua Regalia – Chapter II:' Faith47 at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York, by Allison K. Young

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In Faith47’s exhibition ‘Aqua Regalia – Chapter II’ at Jonathan LeVine Gallery – her debut solo show in New York – the artist’s signature grisaille renderings of animals, figures and intimate gestures mingle with an expansive collection of objects gathered in her home country of South Africa as well as during travels throughout Asia, Europe and the Caribbean.

Raise Your Hat As Important Stern Comes Home!

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Strauss & Co's upcoming auction 'Important South African and International Art' - set to take place on Monday 23rd May at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg - will be headlined by a striking portrait, returning from Australia, of one of Irma Stern’s closest friends. Irma Stern’s captivating 1943 painting, Portrait of Freda Feldman in Basuto Hat, is back in South Africa. The work is being offered at Strauss & Co’s Johannesburg auction on 23 May 2016. It is expected to fetch between R5 000 000 and R7 000 000. The portrait is accompanied by the original Basotho hat (or mokorotlo) worn by the sitter.


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