Nkgopoleng Moloi

  • Kemang Wa Lehulere, Conference of the Birds, 2017–21, salvaged school desks, ceramic dogs, paper scrolls, music stands, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Kemang Wa Lehulere

    “Art doesn’t have to solve problems, it only has to formulate them correctly,” as Anton Chekhov said. Kemang Wa Lehulere’s solo exhibition “Bring Back Lost Love” attempted to formulate the problem of loss and reclamation—of land, dignity, and ultimately, love. A gathering of drawings and mixed-media installations let us feel the weight of history.

    Wa Lehulere’s works engage what he refers to as the “double lives” of objects, that is to say, the multiple ways a thing can be interpreted and reconfigured. This show took its impetus from the concept of love, bringing to mind bell hooks’s reflection,

  • View of “Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South.” Photo: Graham De Lacy.
    picks February 12, 2023

    “Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South”

    In recent years, institutions in South Africa have been plagued by mega-exhibitions that showcase everything from everywhere all at once—sprawling retrospectives and bloated group shows with more than a hundred works on display. By contrast, “Kahlo, Sher-Gil, Stern: Modernist Identities in the Global South” presents only three paintings: Frida Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Hummingbird and Thorn Necklace, 1940; Amrita Sher-Gil’s Three Girls, 1935; and Irma Stern’s Watussi Woman in Red, 1946. The remaining space constitutes a research installation that situates the works through archival videos,

  • Inga Somdyala, Isala kutyelwa ibonwa ngomophu (It Remains to Be Seen Through the Lens), 2022, ocher, oxide, and ash on canvas, 6' × 30' 10 1⁄8".

    Inga Somdyala

    Numerology, myth, and memory converged in Inga Somdyala’s exhibition “Adamah,” which included paintings; small and large flags made with soil, ocher, clay, and canvas; and video installations exploring notions of heritage, lineage, and national identity. Through the exhibition title, language seeps into various paths: Adamah is not only a root word for “ground” and “earth” in the Hebrew language, but also the Adam of the Bible—creation, beginning, and end.

    The show began with Somdyala’s recollection of his grandmother’s burial; he presented a pair of Nike Stefan Janoski sneakers he wore as he

  • Rita Ngcobo, Veld Fires at Night, ca. 1969, mixed media, 31 5⁄8 × 20". From “When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940–2000.”

    “When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940–2000”

    Bessie Head published her first novel, When Rain Clouds Gather, while exiled in Botswana in 1968. Following the journey of its protagonist, Makhaya, an escapee from apartheid South Africa, the novel is a poignant exploration of hope in the midst of despair. Taking their title from Head’s novel, South African curators Portia Malatjie and Nontobeko Ntombela have meticulously woven together a survey of important works in “When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940–2000”—part research study and part commemoration. “When Rain Clouds Gather” bears the stamp of its authors, whose

  • Nolan Oswald Dennis, garden for fanon, 2021, bioactive system, books, glass globes, microcontroller, steel armature, dimensions variable. Installation view.
    picks September 01, 2022


    Can a clew of earthworms feasting on Frantz Fanon’s book The Wretched of the Earth offer new entry points to thinking about social practices of care? In artist Nolan Oswald Dennis’s installation, garden for fanon, 2021, worms, under the right conditions, will eat books and convert their fiber into fertilizer, effectively making soil.

    Garden for fanon is currently on view at A4 Arts Foundation as part of the exhibition, “Customs,” curated by the space’s director, Josh Ginsburg, together with the celebrated architect and designer of the 2020–21 Serpentine Pavilion, Sumayya Vally. The show brings

  • Rahima Gambo, Tatsuniya II, 2019, digital video, color, sound, 14 minutes 44 seconds.

    Rahima Gambo

    Rahima Gambo’s exhibition “Bird Sound Orientations” employed a constellation of organic and inorganic materials to embody reoriented ways of perceiving the world. Hinging on the Nigerian artist’s personal connection to various places and the pathways and forms of connectivity within and between them, the works explored parks, forests, and fields—nature in both rural and urban guises. The collages, silk-screened prints, and sculptural installations featured imagery familiar from her past work, including flora, birds, and children at play. By arranging found images—including those from coloring-book

  • Lerato Shadi, I know what a closed fist means, 2020, Photographic prints on board, 106 1/4 x  157 1/2 cm each, installation dimensions variable; height floor to ceiling. Installation view.
    picks April 16, 2022

    Lerato Shadi

    A closed fist can signal any number of things: resistance, power, insurrection, insurgency, recalcitrance. It can also denote good luck or even be playful (such as the children’s game in which one person pretends to pluck the nose from another’s face). In Lerato Shadi’s work, I know what a closed fist means, 2020, four floor-to-ceiling photographs depict a forearm clenched in variations of the eponymous hand gesture. The multiple possible interpretations of the images point to the myriad ways in which knowledge is produced and disseminated depending on one’s cultural experiences and locale.