Communion is an intimate group show that explores the connections between six artists whose work is a vehicle to navigate their personal and creative journeys. Each artist is enmeshed in their immediate milieu, using their creative process to wrestle with, work through, sanctify or release the ties that bind – including familial relationships, ancestral lineage, cultural heritage and geographical location. The shared site of the gallery becomes a place for communion between the artist and their subject on the one hand, and among the group of artists together on the other.
Communion will launch new works by Andile Dyalvane, Chris Soal, Justine Mahoney, Madoda Fani, Rich Mnisi and Zizipho Poswa. Forms evoking interconnection recur in this grouping of ceramics, sculpture, furniture and wall-based art, including circular and rounded shapes, spirals, repetition and fluid movement.
Widely considered one of South Africa’s foremost ceramic artists, Andile Dyalvane is guided by a deep spiritual connection to his Xhosa ancestors through his work. Communion will exhibit large-scale ceramic vessels that radiate a newfound dynamism. The artist locates the origin of this movement in his own energetic shift, as he works with a greater sense of abandon and an even deeper commitment to his spiritual lineage and internal exploration. Dyalvane has exhibited his ceramics at galleries, fairs and museums all over the world, including a solo show at Friedman Benda in New York. He is frequently invited to give workshops and share his skills with the international ceramic community, and recently completed residencies at Leach Pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall (UK) and Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Deer Isle, Maine (US).
Based in Johannesburg, Chris Soal expansive practice revolves around the materiality of “manufactured debris” – disposable objects created for a single utilitarian purpose whose hyper-accessibility has made them “invisible” to our eyes. Conceptually, his works refer to the political context of their making, highlighting the histories embedded in the found material such as toothpicks and beer bottle-tops. Communion will feature a large wall-based artwork made of thousands of discarded bottle-tops, strung together in an endlessly repeating spiral that creates the illusion of depth and challenges one’s perceptions as you move around it. Up close, the shimmering, intricately crafted piece reveals its true identity, upending our expectations of what constitutes “value”. Chris was awarded the 2018 PPC Imaginarium overall prize and crowned winner in the sculpture category. His recent show, Field of Vision, ran from June to August 2019 at WHATIFTHEWORLD in Cape Town. His work sold out at this year’s PAD London and at The Salon Art & Design in New York in 2018, and his solo booth was critically acclaimed at this year’s Investec Cape Town Fine Art Fair.
The sculptures of Justine Mahoney have captivated audiences for their deceptively innocent approach to exploring the dark side of human existence. Using her own memories of growing up in suburban Joburg as middle-class white girl during Apartheid, her work tussles with perceptions of self – both her own and those closest to her. For Communion, she will exhibit a new figurative bronze sculpture exploring the conflicts traversed by young womanhood: scarification, sexual allure, innocence and independence. Mahoney has exhibited her work all over South Africa and at international design fairs such as Design Miami, Design Miami/Basel and The Salon Art and Design in New York.
Madoda Fani makes hand-coiled, patterned ceramics that are a contemporary evolution of burnished and smoke-fired Zulu pots. Although he uses traditional techniques, his curvaceous, coiled forms and hand-carved embellishments are entirely distinct. For this exhibition he breaks new ground, carving his intricate, repetitive incisions into wood to create two large-scale round benches. Fani has exhibited at Design Miami and The Salon Art + Design, and as part of the Christie’s London annual design auction. He has joined residency programmes in Argentina (2009) and France (2013), and received first prize at the 2016 Ceramics Southern Africa Exhibition.
A designer at the very forefront of African fashion, Rich Mnisi made his breakthrough into furniture design with Southern Guild in 2018. All his work displays a keen awareness of the human body in that their forms embrace and envelope the subject. He will exhibit a new range of low-slung, upholstered seating based on the rise and fall of human bodies in repose. Mnisi’s intention is for the sitter to feel “held” by their protective forms – a tribute to the guidance and strength of his matrilineal ancestors and of African mothers in general. His work has made international headlines in media outlets such as Dazed and Confused, i-D, Vice, VOGUE Italia, WWD and Sunday Times. He draws influences from film, music and photography, and he frequently art directs editorial and campaign shoots.
Zizipho Poswa explores her personal experience and Xhosa heritage in new large-scale ceramic sculptures continuing her Umthwalo series. These works are an ode to the load carried by African women and the traditional tasks of gathering wood, collecting water and taking bucket loads of clothing to wash in the river. For Poswa, who witnessed these daily rituals as a young girl, this balancing act is analogous to the multiple life-sustaining roles that African women play as they bridge traditional and modern worlds. Her work was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and was included in Deeper than Text, presented by 1stdibs and the Female Design Council at the 1stdibs Gallery in Manhattan. She has exhibited at Design Miami and The Salon Art + Design in New York.