Southern Guild makes its debut at this year’s edition of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair with a special project that introduces audiences to a different genre of collectible pieces. The gallery presents stirring works that will make you question the border between art and design.
Take Andile Dyalvane and fellow ceramicist Zizipho Poswa, for example, artists with important narratives and viewpoints who have pushed their work beyond utilitarian and into the realm of sculpture. From their shared studio in Woodstock, they manipulate clay into pots and vessels that articulate who they are individually and where they come from.
Poswa’s Umthwalo collection is an existing body of sculptures stimulated by her recollections of childhood. The sculptures are large, and their form suggests women carrying loads of wood, water, and laundry on their heads. Making use of unexpected colours, Poswa treats her sculptures in opaque washes of electric blue and ochre-like orange paint, allowing the textural variety inherent in the clay to be illuminated. Her delicate dance of texture and colour is evocative of umbaco, traditional Xhosa cloth – an unsurprising relationship, considering Poswa’s education in textile design.
Also taking his queues from Xhosa tradition is Dyalvane. Guided by his ancestors and spirituality, Dyalvane sculpts with a new-found sense of abandon and dynamism. He interprets traditions such as ukuqatshulwa – the Xhosa cultural practice of body scarification – in contemporary ways, sporadically cutting into the black and bronze glazed surface of the clay to reveal glimmers of blue and red paint beneath. Fashion designer Rich Mnisi is also interested in his ancestry. Continuing from his first collection Nwa-Mulamula, named after his late great-grandmother, Mnisi makes his second venture into the realm of sculpture with Southern Guild. Moving between the domains of art and design with ease, Mnisi has created a collection of low, leather seats which replicate the human form, making a gesture of embrace – the pieces stand as a physical representation of his Nwa-Mulamula’s omnipresence.
Primary colours dominate Porky Hefer’s hanging chairs – his language is distinctive. For the special project, Hefer presents works from his latest collection, Molecules, a series of chairs clad in blue, red, and yellow leather, each representing a different chemical compound. Always playful with his craft, the hanging chairs arouse an overwhelming desire to interact with the work – to crawl into the sheepskin interior and feel cocooned in the womb of the sculpture.
Each of these works are brimming with emotion and nostalgia, brought on by their common links to spirituality, ancestry, and childhood memory. The participation of Southern Guild in the ICTAF sees a relaxing of rigid viewpoints on the difference between art and design, with the artists bringing their individual narratives, unique language, and distinctive practice to the fair. Other artists featured in the special project include Justine Mahoney, Otto Du Pless, Stanislaw Trzebinski, Atang Tshikare, Justine Mahoney, Doktor and Misses, and Conrad Hicks.
An article by Khumo Sebambo
Featured image : Zizipho Phozwa, “Magodi – Abongile”, 2019. Glazed stoneware clay, 60 x 60 x 93 cm. Photo by Hayden Phipps, Courtesy of Southern Guild.
This article was written for The Art Momentum | Cape Town Art Fair Artpaper 2020.
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