Sunday 13 December 2015

Wiley, Anatsui, others boost African presence at Art Basel 2015

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Artists of African descents, including Kehinde Wiley,  El Anatsui and Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze are on the lists of participants at the Art Basel 2015, in Miami, U.S. The artists are showing at the prestigious Art Basel under different outlets, including South Africa-based Goodman Gallery and New York-based Jack Shainman Gallery.
Drawing by Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze
In a statement by Goodman, the gallery boasts of being the representative of Africa at Art Basel. More importantly, Goodman discloses that the contents of some of the works being shown are historically significant to the continent of Africa. 

 "The Goodman Gallery has the singular distinction of representing the African continent at Art Basel Miami 2015," says a statement received from its media representative. "Yet its status as one of the oldest and most established commercial art galleries in Africa means it is ideally positioned to present a list comprising historically significant works of a contemporary nature by senior artists, as well as distinctive works by new visionaries." But another South Africa-based gallery, Stevenson (Cape Town, Johannesburg), according to the organisers of Art Basel is also showing at the event.

  Among other artists whose works are featuring  at the yearly event under Goodman are Carla Busuttil, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Kendell Geers, David Goldblatt Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Liza Lou, Gerhard Marx, Misheck Masamvu, Walter Oltmann, Gerald Machona, Hank Willis Thomas Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse.

  From 32 countries across the world, 267 international galleries are showing at the event, which also features 29 first time exhibitors. 
However, at the  main section, 191 galleries are showing as the list include Stevenson, presenting works by Nandipha Mntambo, Peter Hugo, Portia Zvavahera, Serge Alain Nitegeka and Wim Botha; Goodman, showing 12 artists; and New York-based Jack Shainman gallery with work by El Anatsui, among others.

 In its gallery statement, Goodman writes about the work of Amanze: "An odd combination of two essential elements,  Amanze’s new body of work symbolises the diffuse and mysterious realm inhabited by the artist’s cohort of hybrid forms. Amanze’s large-scale drawings foreground her concern with metamorphosis and imagination as a lense through which multiple and often disparate layers of meaning, histories and forms can be simultaneously read. The world within the drawings alludes to a non-specific, boundaryless place and time. Instead, there is a sense of exemption, as detached characters float in a vast timeless expanse. Existing somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination, these distinct beings find authenticity, wholeness and freedom

in their ability to equally belong nowhere and everywhere. With a background in textiles, photography and printmaking, amanze’s current practice is deeply centered in her first love, drawing. There is an ephemeral quality to her drawing and she delights in the materiality of her medium (mainly, paper, graphite ink and photo transfers). For Amanze the work is “as much about beauty and make-believe, as it is a commentary on cultural hybridity” and it isn’t social science, it’s magic-realism and the power of drawing to invent worlds for ourselves.”

  The gallery explaines that selection for its Art Basel presentation "traverses compelling re-articulations of space, place and power. Representations of race and conflict reveal our artists grappling with distinctly 21st Century dynamics."

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