/ 10 January 2023

Seeds of the Fig exhibition showcases contemporary sculpture

Witw Krone 15 Hr
Ibrahim Mahama Stranger to Lines II 2020. Courtesy of Apalazzo Gallery

Twee Jonge Gezellen, the Tulbagh-based maker of Méthod Cap Classique, is hosting an exhibition titled Seeds of the Fig to highlight and showcase the work of 24 African artists.

The exhibition lends itself to a mixture of history and contemporary sculptures. This influences the manner in which the spaces are curated, presenting a sense of background, practice, research and inspirations for each artist as a way for them to highlight their work and introduce themselves to audiences and art lovers.  

Seeds of the Fig is centred around modern sculptural practice from various areas across Africa. It has been curated by Reservoir projects, which was established in 2021 by Heinrich Groenewald and Shona van der Merwe. The name Reservoir is driven by an idea to “function as a collection of curatorial information” for contemporary art that provides young artists with an opportunity to create formidable careers for themselves.  

The exhibition is themed around the notion of time and the ability to create while waiting along with the productivity of waiting itself. It explores the various processes that go into putting together an installation. This ranges from the artists working on the sculptures in the studio, the research they do before, the immersion of their ideas into creating these pieces and the pockets of patience in between the conceptualisation process and the final product. 

Rowan Smith ≈ ≠ ̃~ (Unicode series) 2022 Pine, african mahogany, maple, gouache, urethane, beeswax, broken car window glass, bus upholstery and acrylic resin Dimensions variable

Although the exhibition includes artists from different countries in Africa such as Ghana and Namibia, there are also many sculptures by South African artists. What stands out about Seeds of a Fig is the versatility of these artists whose interpretations and creations are unique to the way in which they feel or see life. 

For example, Cape Town-based multidisciplinary artist Ben Orkin has established his own language with his artwork through the use of shapes. From holes, protrusions, spikes, ridges, rings and grooves, Orkin’s work is becoming increasingly distinctive as he expresses what he creates based on his feelings. 

“Often when I feel something, I think of it in a shape, the spikes and protrusions reject. The holes allow infection, they are vulnerable,” Orkin says. He believes that the holes in his sculptures act as a pause between “thought and expression”. 

Another featured artist is Pietermaritzburg-born Sophia Van Wyk, who specialises in sculpture and the design and making of furniture. Van Wyk had a solo exhibition entitled Future Mythology at the Everard Read gallery in Cape Town in May 2022, while also participating in shows such as Nirox Sculpture Park. Her solo exhibition focused on blending iconography from “ancient civilizations, pop culture and futurism”. 

Although Van Wyk’s pieces make use of neutral colours like white, brown and black, she’s also not afraid to at times make use of brighter and bolder colours and sometimes infuses shades together to create unique sculptures.     

Wim Botha UNTITLED (LANDSCAPE WITH VARIABLES) 2019 Wood, brass rods, leather, silica, marble Dimensions variable Courtesy of Stevenson Gallery

Umtata-born artist Athi Patra Ruga’s work has an adaptation of “the trope of myth” serving as a modern response to the post-apartheid time period. He makes alternative identities through creating avatars to parody and analyse the present political and social landscape and status quo. Through the development of myths and different realities, he tries to examine the traumas of the past 200 years of colonial history from afar and from a place of detachment rather than personalising the wounding and damage caused by this heavy past. 

Patra’s sculptures are nothing short of bold, colourful, deep and satirical with keen attention to detail. It’s almost impossible to not be moved or intrigued in some shape or form when examining his work and pieces that are reflective and striking.

The exhibition runs until March 2023. To find out more about it, contact [email protected]