Must-see Exhibitions this October

Must-see Exhibitions this October

This month of October brings an exciting line up of must-see exhibitions across Africa. Here are some of our favourites.

Kiluanji Kia Henda: In the Days of a Dark Safari

Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

October 7–28, 2017

The Last Journey of the Dictator Mussunda N’zombo Before the Great Extinction (Act II), 2017

In the Days of a Dark Safari marks Kiluanji Kia Henda’s first solo exhibition with Goodman Gallery. The exhibition comes at a significant moment in artist’s career as the recipient of the 2017 Frieze Artist Award – making Kia Henda the first African artist to receive the award.

The exhibition critiques the fallacy inherent in the opposing discourses of colonial-era ‘noble savagery’ as encapsulated in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (that African nature is ‘something monstrous and free’); and post-colonial populism, which espouses the ideal of a natural world in Africa as a Paradise Lost.

Kia Henda describes African populism in the following terms: “This is the discourse of those looking from the inside, claiming that the expulsion from paradise is the fault of those who came from the outside. They use the claim to their advantage and to hide the destruction by people who colonise themselves, pinning the blame for Africa´s failures on an external phantom.”


Guy Tillim: Museum of the Revolution

Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town

October 12 to November 25, 2017

Avenue du President Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar, 2017, 90 x 60cm, archival pigment ink on cotton paper

From October 12 to November 25, 2017, Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town will present Museum of the Revolution by leading South African photographer Guy Tillim, who recently received the 2017 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award for this new body of work.

Over the past four years, Tillim has been photographing the streets of African cities including Johannesburg, Durban, Maputo, Beira, Harare, Nairobi, Kigali, Kampala, Addis Ababa, Luanda, Libreville, Accra, Dakar and Dar es Salaam.


Lagos Biennial

Old Running Shed Railway Compound, Ebute-Metta, Lagos

October 14 – November 22, 2017


The Lagos Biennial, themed Living on the Edge opens to the general public on the October 14, 2017 and runs to November 22, 2017. The inaugural edition of the Lagos Biennial explores Crisis in both historical and contemporary contexts. It will feature about 45 participating artists from about 15 countries of the world. The exhibitions are framed around the concept of super-impositions, and examine parallel histories and counter narratives with the character of the City of Lagos as catalyst. The main Biennial exhibition will take place at the Running shed of the Railway compound in Yaba, Lagos. Some of the participating artists include Jelili Atiku, Rahima Gambo, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Taiye Idahor, Jess Atieno, , Jerry Buhari, Rita GT, Niyi Olangunju, Yara Mekawei, Olivia Jasinski, Kainebi Osahenye, Phoebe Boswell, Abdulrazaq Awofeso and Ayo Akinwande.


Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Oct 20, 2017

Pregnant, 2017, charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper, 74 1/2 x 42 in. ©Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

For her first solo museum exhibition in New York, Toyin Ojih Odutola presents an interconnected series of fictional portraits, chronicling the lives of two aristocratic Nigerian families.

Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) creates intimate drawings that explore the complexity and malleability of identity. Depicted in her distinctive style of intricate mark making, her sumptuous compositions reimagine the genre and traditions of portraiture.

Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against luxurious backdrops of domesticity and leisure. They, and the worlds they inhabit, are informed by the artist’s own array of inspirations, which range from art history to popular culture to experiences of migration and dislocation. Highly attentive to detail and the nuances of space, class, and color—whether of palette or skin—Ojih Odutola continues her examinations of narrative, authenticity, and representation.


Steven Cohen: Put your Heart Under your Feet … and Walk!

Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg

October 21 to November 17, 2017

put your heart under your feet … and walk! (Blood), 2017. Two-channel digital video, sound

From October 21 to November 17, 2017, Stevenson Gallery Johannesburg will present Put your Heart Under your Feet … and Walk!, a solo exhibition by South African performance artist Steven Cohen.

The exhibition is an intense meditation on loss, grief and absence, following the death of Cohen’s partner and artistic collaborator, the dancer Elu. The work first came into being as a performance piece, which debuted at the Montpellier Danse festival in June this year.


Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sun Never Sets

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

October 21 to November 18, 2017

Installation picture: Kapwani Kiwanga, The Sun Never Sets, 2017

For Kapwani Kiwanga’s first solo exhibition in Africa, the Paris-based artist investigates the intersection of history, politics and the organic, presenting new work in which the 20th century expression, ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire’ is subtly critiqued.

The Sun Never Sets comprises works of a variety of media, including video installation and sculpture, through which the artist positions the natural world as a ‘witness’ to colonial rule and, thus, an important means of archival documentation in and of itself.


Ilené Bothma: The Theatre of the Mother-Cord

99 Loop, Cape Town

October 25 to November 25, 2017

Ilené Bothma, Chair (detal)

This collection of paintings, soft sculptures and installation pieces is a continuation of Bothma’s previous work, which deals with issues of female and domestic relationships, through an uncanny distortion of the familiar and comfortable.

To explore the interactions between the private and public roles of women, Bothma combines both traditional fine art media, such as watercolour, with techniques more often regarded as craft, like embroidery, sewing and knitting. All her work, though, is labour-intensive, with lace masks hand-painted in incredibly fine detail, and portraits painstakingly stitched on antique handkerchiefs. This process is a reflection on the repetitive nature of our daily lives. As she explains, ‘The home self experiences the relationships and lives in the domestic space, whereas the artistic self analyses them’.


Nnenna Okore: Ụkwa Ruo Oge Ya Ọ Daa

October Gallery, London

October 26 to December 21, 2017

Ethereal Beauty, 2017, cheesecloth, jute string, lace, dye and wire, 99x107x31cm

The proverbial Igbo axiom kwa Ruo Oge Ya Daa, references the theatrical falling of breadfruit from the mother tree. The plummet of this tropical fruit, known in Igbo as Ukwa, not only indicates the height of its ripening phase, it also sparks the genesis of a new trajectory – the decaying stage. Symbolically the fallen Ukwa represents metamorphic processes that are constantly injected into the natural cycle to establish cosmic balance and planetary order. These fascinating twists and turns bring into being new realities, seasons, chapters, formations and systems.


Virginia MacKenny: At Sand’s Edge

Barnard Gallery, Cape Town

October 31 to November 28, 2017

Blue Screen Day, 2010, oil on canvas, 200x160cm

Interested in painting, gender and deep ecology, Virginia MacKenny’s artistic practice considers the powerful and yet tenuous relationships we hold with the environment around us. Juxtaposing seemingly random images within her signature blue spaces, her work offers an opportunity to consider the nature of perception, and the manner in which we internalize and consolidate the vast array of random symbols and images, which we perceive and live with constantly. In depicting everyday objects and scenes set within a vast blue world connoting space or the deepest ocean, MacKenny endeavors to remind us of our position as but one small element in a vast and mysterious universe. The complexities and nuances of this relationship between personal self and universal other are played out in her unique blend of illusionism and abstraction.








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