Jan 2013 | Art Exhibition Recommendations

Another Africa’s exhibition picks for art in January from around the globe. From Dakar, to Houston, London to Munich, Johannesburg and more contemporary Africana abounds.

Discover the discourse within the realm of contemporary Africana, the topics and intellectual spaces being interrogated by artists and curators actively widening the intellectual field and encouraging dialogue.




Raw Material Company | Boulevard du Centenaire Made in China: Photographs by Kan Si
~ Feb.9

Kan Si, Untitled, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Kan Si, Untitled, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.


Boulevard du Centenaire Made in China, looks at Chinese migration to Africa through the example of Dakar. In the last two decades, the continent’s Chinese migrant worker population has grown rapidly with recent estimates accounting for over one million Chinese traders and workers.  Thousands of immigrants arrive annually from mainland China to cities and villages throughout Africa. This is not expected to slow as Africa’s economies continue to grow, and is having a transformative impact on culture, business and politics.

According to the China-Africa Project, there are more Chinese immigrants living in Africa today than French colonisers in the middle of the 20th century. The Chinese population is now a permanent fixture in Africa’s demography.

Senegalese artist Kan Si has documented over a two year period, the life and business activity of Chinese traders in Dakar’s historical middle-class neighborhood of Centenaire. This portfolio is of great importance for the study of urban transformation. It also brings to light the distance that the Chinese community keeps, where human interaction with the local community is reduced to commercial exchange and unregimented social and cultural interaction is almost nonexistent.


Raw Material Company | 4074 bis Sicap Amitié 2 | BP 22710 Dakar, Senegal | More info 





The Menil Collection | The Progress of Love
~ Mar.17

Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Chéri (detail), 2012.  Photo | Zoulikha Bouabdellah.

© Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Chéri (detail), 2012.  Photo | Zoulikha Bouabdellah.


The Progress of Love, an unprecedented transatlantic collaborative project between art institutions in three cities and two continents: CCA, Lagos; The Menil Collection, Houston and The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, St. Louis. This multifaceted exhibition explores the changing modes and meanings of love in today’s global society.

Numerous scholars have addressed the ways media, technology, and capitalism have affected Western notions of love over the last few centuries. Little attention, however, has been paid to the impact of these forces on the conception of love in Africa, or even to the subject itself. The Progress of Love explores romantic love, self-love, friendship, familial affect, love of one’s country, and other bonds in and around the continent. Though the exhibition is weighted towards art produced specifically about love in Africa, works that might otherwise be considered more “Western” in orientation are included as well, calling attention to the global exchange through which such concepts develop, and to both the shared and distinct aspects of the experience of love.


The Menil Collection | 1533 Sul Ross, Houston, Texas | More info





Goodman Gallery | Broomberg and Chanarin | To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light
Jan.24 – Feb.16

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Strip Test 3, 2012. Courtesy of the artists and Goodman Gallery

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Strip Test 3, 2012. Courtesy of the artists and Goodman Gallery


The exhibition title To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light appropriated by Broomberg and Chanarin, is in fact the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe the capabilities of a new film stock developed in the early 80s to address the inability of their earlier films to accurately render dark skin.

The radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself is interrogated by the artists Broomberg and Chanarin in this presentation of new works produced on salvaged polaroid ID-2 systems.

In this wide-ranging meditation on the relationship between photography and race, the artists continue to scrutinise the photographic medium, leading viewers through a convoluted history lesson; a combination of found images, rescued artifacts and unstable new photographic works.


Goodman Gallery | 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood, Johannesburg, 2193 | More info



Stevenson | The Loom of the Land
Jan.24 – Mar.1

Brett MBrett Murray, Rainbow Over Nkandla, (From the Made in China series) 2012/2013. Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson Johannesburg | Cape Town.urray, Rainbow Over Nkandla. From the Made in China series 2012/2013. Courtesy of Stevenson Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Brett Murray, Rainbow Over Nkandla, (From the Made in China series) 2012/2013. Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson Johannesburg | Cape Town.


Loom of the Land, a group exhibition of South African landscapes curated by Anton Kannemeyer. To reference a quote from Gerhard Richter in The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings and Interviews 1962-1993 :  ‘Landscape is so beautiful. It is probably the most terrific thing there is.’

While celebrating what to Kannemeyer too is a ‘most terrific’ subject, this exhibition reflects his curiosity about images of the South African landscape that in some way disrupt expectations – whether of landscape as a genre or a particular artist’s oeuvre. This is most evident in artists, like himself, who usually focus on other issues and subjects, and then also choose to depict landscape.

There are many instances throughout art history of artists whose focus lay elsewhere but who have painted and sketched landscape scenes as formal exercises or incidental observations of daily life. Across time and eras, all artists who desire to depict the landscape are challenged by formal and aesthetic challenges because, as Kannemeyer would see it, it always starts to verge on abstraction at some point.

Artists | Conrad Botes, Wim Botha, Peter Clarke, Paul Edmunds, David Goldblatt, Ian Grose, Pieter Hugo, Anton Kannemeyer, Mark Kannemeyer (Lorcan White), Jacques Loustal, Johann Louw, Mack Magagane, Titus Matiyane, Zanele Muholi, Brett Murray, John Murray, Daniel Naudé, Hylton Nel, Deborah Poynton, Jo Ractliffe, Claudette Schreuders, Ina van Zyl, Garth Walker.


Stevenson Gallery | 62 Juta Street Braamfontein 2001, Johannesburg | More info





INIVA | Peter Clarke | Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats
Jan.16 – Mar.9

Peter Clarke, Self-Portrait 1953. Copyright the artist.

Peter Clarke, Self-Portrait, 1953. Copyright the artist, courtesy of private collection.


As South Africa prepares to celebrate 20 years since the election that brought Nelson Mandela to President, and with Jacob Zuma recently securing a controversial second term to lead the governing African National Congress, Iniva reflects on the nation’s social and political history through the work of internationally acclaimed artist and writer Peter Clarke. Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats honours Clarke’s life, work and contribution to art over sixty years, and tells the story of an artist whose sharp, poignant and aesthetically memorable work provides an extraordinary context for discussion of South Africa, apartheid and post-apartheid.

Curator’s Tour
Jan.30 | 18:30
Tessa Jackson, Iniva Chief Executive and co-curator of Wind Blowing on the Cape Flats leads a tour of Peter
Clarke’s retrospective and expands on his life and work.

Ingredients for Debate?
Feb. 7 | 18:30
Gillian Slovo, well know novelist, playwright and memoirist, in conversation with Tamar Garb, University
College London, about how she has drawn upon personal history and experience to debate the politics of
South Africa, including its Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Visual Traditions, past and present
Feb.14 | 18:30
Providing a context for Peter Clarke’s work, a panel including independent curator Christine Eyene, share
their knowledge of recent visual arts developments in South Africa.


Iniva | Rivington Place, London EC2A 3BA | More info



Jack Bell Gallery | Quitte Le Pouvoir | New Paintings by Aboudia
Jan.22 – Feb.16

Aboudia, Untitled, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Bell Gallery.

Aboudia, Untitled, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Bell Gallery.


A solo exhibition, Quitte Le Pouvoir, presents a new series of paintings by Aboudia. Noted for his large-scale, heavily layered, brutally energetic paintings that combine an innocence and spontaneity with the portrayal of a dark interior world.

This new series like in previous works, grapples with the hardships of life on the streets and the social inequalities of downtown Abidjan. Often claustrophobic and oppressive, Aboudia’s painting achieves a careful balance between pathos and aggression.

While the vitality of his style recalls Basquiat, the darker undercurrents and themes describe a battlefield straight out of Goya. Aboudia is also a master of multi-layered imagery as he mixes with great energy characters from his direct neighbourhood and fragments of found comic strips, advertising and the media. Enigmatic details come in and out of focus, often only revealing themselves after several viewings. His expression of revolt and explosive, incendiary life in his everyday urban environment brings to mind artists from the great American tradition, Twombly perhaps in his casual-looking execution, and Dubuffet. Aboudia’s unrestrained use of violent figuration is a welcome reminder of the power of paint to suggest the vitality and chaos of life.


Jack Bell Gallery| 13 Masons Yard St James’s London SW1Y 6BU | More info





Haus der Kunst | Kendell Geers 1988-2012
Feb.1 – May.12

Kendell Geers, Possession, 1989, private collection. Courtesy of Haus der Kunst.

Gendell Geers, Possession, 1989, private collection. Courtesy of Haus der Kunst.


Haus der Kunst presents the first comprehensive overview of Kendell Geers’s work. Curated by Clive Kellner, the exhibition, which fills more than 900 square meters of space, examines the artistic practice of Kendell Geers, which spans a variety of media and genres including installation, sculpture, drawing, video, performance, and photography.

Kendell Geers 1988–2012 traces the shift and the development of the artist’s conceptual and aesthetic language, divided into two chronological but interlinked groupings: 1988 to 2000, a period which covers his practice when he was living in Johannesburg, South Africa, and 2000 until the present, covering his move and residence in Europe. Throughout his artistic practice Geers developed a visual vocabulary characterised by provocation, humor, and violence. The use of found objects such as barbed wire, neon lights, or glass shards indicates the crucial role the readymade plays in his work.

Exhibition opening on Thursday, January 31, at 7 pm

Speakers are: Okwui Enwezor (Director), Clive Kellner (Curator), and Kendell Geers.


Haus der Kunst | Prinzregentenstraße 1 80538 Munich| More info





French Institute Alliance Française | Ouattara Watts | The Project Room
Jan.24 – Feb.23

Outtara WatOuttara Watts, Matrix 00B, 2005. © Outtara Watts, Matrix 00B, 2005. Mixed media, 2.6 x 2m © Outtara Watts.

Outtara Watts, Matrix 00B, 2005. © Outtara Watts


Drawing on his African roots and experiences as a New Yorker, Ouattara Watts creates mixed-media paintings that transcend geography to address the broader expanse of the cosmos. The Project Room is an exhibition of new large-scale mixed-media paintings by the artist who has exhibited at MoMA PS1, the Whitney Biennale, and the New Museum in New York. His work incorporates cryptic ideograms, religious symbols, and floating abstractions, inviting diverse social and historical readings.

“My vision is not based on any country or continent; it’s beyond geography or what can be seen on a map. Even though my pictorial elements can be located, so they can be better understood, this is about something much wider. My paintings refer to the Cosmos.” — Ouattara Watts


FIAF | 22 East 60th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues), New York | More info



Jack Shainman Gallery  | Zwelethu Mthethwa
Jan.24 – Feb.23

Zwelethu Mthethwa, Untitled, 2010. From the series Brave Ones. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Zwelethu Mthethwa,Untitled, 2012. From the series Brave Ones. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.


A solo exhibition of Zwelethu Mthethwa’s photographs from three new series of work including The Brave Ones, Hope Chest and The End of An Era. Mthethwa, known for his large scale photographs, continues to engage the history of photographic portraiture with painterly composition, vibrant color and subjects with a commanding gaze.


Jack Shainman Gallery | 513 West 20th Street, New York | More info



The Walther Project Space | Distance and Desire Encounters with the African Archive
Part II | Contemporary Reconfigurations 
~ Mar.9

Samuel Fosso, La Femme américaine liberée des annees 70, 1997. Courtesy of the Walther Collection.

Samuel Fosso, La Femme américaine liberée des annees 70, 1997. Courtesy of the Walther Collection.


Contemporary Reconfigurations, is the second edition to the three part series Distance and Desire: Encounters with the African Archive, curated by Tamar Garb. It offers new perspectives on the African photographic archive, reimagining its diverse histories and changing meanings.

The exhibition centers on photography and video by African and African American artists who engage critically with the archive through parody, appropriation, and reenactment. It features the work of Carrie Mae Weems, Sammy Baloji, Candice Breitz, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Zanele Muholi, Samuel Fosso, Philip Kwame Apagya, Sabelo Mlangeni, Pieter Hugo, Berni Searle and Andrew Putter.

For this group of artists, a stereotype or ethnographic vision in one era may provide material for quotation, irreverent reworking, or satirical performance in another. Illustrating how the African archive — broadly understood as an accumulation of representations, images, and objects — appears in selected contemporary lens-based practices, the exhibition stages a dialogue between the distance of the past and the desiring gaze of the present.


The Walther Collection Project Space | 526 West 26th Street, Suite 718, New York | More info



All images courtesy of the respective artists, and galleries, museums, institutions and private collections. All rights reserved.


* Home page image credit

‘The Progress of Love’ exhibition.  Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Queen Amina 2 © 2012 Kelechi Amadi-Obi. Courtesy of the artist and The Menil Collection.


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