22.07.2021 - 30.11.2021
Cape Town
The show’s isiXhosa title can be translated as “crust” but here refers to insect exoskeletons, a central fascination for the artist.

Southern Guild presents a new collection of carved ceramics by Madoda Fani, titled iQweqwe, on view in the gallery until 30 November.  The patterned incisions that have defined Fani’s work to date become an all-encompassing ‘skin’ in this series of 12 hand-coiled works. The show’s isiXhosa title can be translated as “crust” but here refers to insect exoskeletons, a central fascination for the artist. Fani’s work is gaining significant international attention with a recent acquisition earlier this year by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the US.

The iQweqwe collection features both functional and sculptural works in which Fani explores unusual new forms, including vessels with tall, conical lids; a bowl supported by a large, four-legged stand; a two-handled pot; and various canisters. Their contours are articulated by concentric lines carved into the clay, finished with detailed markings and studded protrusions, whose repetition lends the surfaces a mesmerising rhythm.

Veering from his usual blackened finish, Fani has left three of the pieces in their original terracotta state, signifying a kind of “stripping back” and returning to one’s roots – much like an insect shedding its skin. This purity of form and earthy colour gives the works an ancient, artefact-like feel. Combined with their pronounced armour-like exteriors, they appear concurrently timeless and futuristic.

Growth and the natural progression of things are recurring themes in Fani’s work. He likens the creating of a piece to that of a pregnancy: a process of varied phases of development and change, before the birth of the final, fully-formed product that is then named. Fani rarely plans his pieces, beginning with a loose idea and then surrendering to the clay, allowing it to lead him: “I let my work take me where it wants to go,” he says.

His evolution as an artist has brought him full circle, seeing him return to one of his original inspirations – insects – only this time, instead of painting them, he is now moulding and carving them from clay. “The work that I’m doing now, is more of a revisiting of that old work, except now I’m using different materials,” he explains. The medium of ceramic yields other surprising characteristics: when gently tapped, the works produce a similar sound to that of a shell or exoskeleton being tapped.

 

WATCH: Madoda Fani’s intricate patterns come alive on a BMW X7 (a short film made in cooperation with BMW South Africa).

Madoda Fani
iMehlo (The Eye)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
27 x 27 x 75 cm
One-off

 

Madoda Fani
iMehlo (The Eye)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
27 x 27 x 75 cm
One-off

 

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Madoda Fani
iQanda (Egg)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
12 x 12 x 20 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
iQanda (Egg)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
12 x 12 x 20 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
Isidchawo sendlela (The Road Spider)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
45 x 45 x 37.5 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
Isidchawo sendlela (The Road Spider)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
45 x 45 x 37.5 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
Isiduli I (The Anthill)

Burnished terracotta clay
32 x 32 x 27 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
Isiduli I (The Anthill)

Burnished terracotta clay
32 x 32 x 27 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
Isiduli II (The Anthill)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
32 x 32 x 25 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
Isiduli II (The Anthill)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
32 x 32 x 25 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
iZembe (An Axe)

Burnished, smoke-fired Terracotta clay
21 x 21 x 74 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
iZembe (An Axe)

Burnished, smoke-fired Terracotta clay
21 x 21 x 74 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
Nomkhitha (Black and Beautiful)

Smoke-fired terracotta clay
56 x 42 x 28 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
Nomkhitha (Black and Beautiful)

Smoke-fired terracotta clay
56 x 42 x 28 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
uBhejane I (The Rhinoceros)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
41 x 41 x 41 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
uBhejane I (The Rhinoceros)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
41 x 41 x 41 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
uBhejane II (The Rhinoceros)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
42 x 42 x 42 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
uBhejane II (The Rhinoceros)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
42 x 42 x 42 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
uNomadukudwane (The Scorpion)

Burnished terracotta clay
40 x 40 x 66 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
uNomadukudwane (The Scorpion)

Burnished terracotta clay
40 x 40 x 66 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
uNomonde (Patience)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
30 x 30 x 64.5 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
uNomonde (Patience)

Burnished, smoke-fired terracotta clay
30 x 30 x 64.5 cm
One-off

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Madoda Fani
Uyadidiyela uNonkala (The Brewing Crab)

Burnished terracotta clay
56 x 56 x 54 cm
One-off

Madoda Fani
Uyadidiyela uNonkala (The Brewing Crab)

Burnished terracotta clay
56 x 56 x 54 cm
One-off

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