For Art Basel 2023 Goodman Gallery is delighted to present leading artists and young talent from or related to the Global South.
The presentation brings together artists guided by social justice whose practices reflect on the geopolitical connections between local and diasporic experiences. Narrating, documenting, and commenting on the history of people and place pulls their collective practices together at a moment when human rights, historical injustice and climate change have been at the forefront of our minds.
Featured artists: Ghada Amer, El Anatsui, Yto Barrada, Candice Breitz, Kudzanai Chiurai, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Leonardo Drew, Vibha Galhotra, Carlos Garaicoa, David Goldblatt, Nicholas Hlobo, Alfredo Jaar, Remy Jungerman, William Kentridge, Misheck Masamvu, Cassi Namoda, Shirin Neshat, Faith Ringgold, Zineb Sedira, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, Mikhael Subotzky, Hank Willis Thomas, and Sue Williamson, among others.
Ghada Amer is a multimedia artist whose body of work is anchored and informed by ongoing ideological and aesthetic concerns. The submission of women to the tyranny of domestic life, the celebration of female sexuality and pleasure, the incomprehensibility of love, the foolishness of war and violence, and an overall quest for formal beauty, constitute the territory that she explores and expresses in her artistic practice.
A LOST CHECKERED DIPTYCH depicts female forms through the delicacy of needle, thread and acrylic paint. The choice of subject matter and of material speaks to the artist’s interest in subverting assumptions related to societal roles attributed to women, rejecting both religious-driven laws that govern women’s bodies as well as contemporary ideas that reject expressions of conventional femininity as a form of empowerment.
With a career spanning five decades, El Anatsui is one of the most important contemporary artists — awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale alongside Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat in 2017, as well as the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the Venice Biennale’s highest honour, in 2015. He was also included in TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2023. Anatsui is best known for his ability to meticulously transform simple materials into complex assemblages that create distinctive visual impact.
William Kentridge’s glyphs are a visual dictionary of sorts made up of a series of sculptures that form a vocabulary of symbols, representing a collection of everyday objects, suggested words, or icons that reoccur throughout the artist’s practice.
The glyphs started as ink drawings and paper cut-outs, each transformed into bronzes, to embody the weight and character their shapes on paper suggested. In their smaller form, they can be arranged in order to construct sculptural sentences, and rearranged to deny meaning.
Colonial Landscape, Falls & Vessels (from Applied Drawings) forms part of William Kentridge’s series of Colonial Landscapes, which were drawn in 1995 alongside the creation of the theatre production Faustas in Africa! The source for Kentridge’s Colonial Landscapes is the two-volume nineteenthcentury publication Africa and Its Exploration as Told by Its Explorers, which illustrated the account of explorations of the African continent by Europeans. Prior to the invention of photography, explorers typically travelled with artists to illustrate their discoveries. The publication is filled with engravings depicting the African landscape. For Kentridge, underlying landscapes is the idea of nature as a “place of social contestation.”
Kentridge is internationally acclaimed for his drawings, films, sculptures, theatre and opera productions. While his practice, expressionist in nature, is entirely underpinned by drawing, his method combines studio-based and collaborative practices to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature and history, and maintain a space for contradiction and uncertainty.
Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Masamvu’s works allow him to address the past while searching for a way of being in the world. His layered painted surfaces and brushstrokes, which are almost visceral, exist as remnants of the physical act of painting and give the sense that multiple temporalities have been included in one picture plane. As one of the most significant and pioneering contemporary artists from Zimbabwe, Masamvu’s work offers a renewed understanding of visual culture in Africa and the decolonial project more broadly – inciting a fresh critical perspective that bears witness to the political realities, social textures and divergent voices present on the continent.
Frenzy are part of Masamvu’s latest body of work where he combines striking colour with a distinct expressionist style to create tumultuous landscapes, representing the confessional vulnerability at the heart of his practice. These works see the artist lean towards abstraction through frenetic mark-making, allowing the paint to convey his fears, anxieties and dreams. The irregular, erratic swipes of paint and chaotic compositions mimic the artist’s desire to let emotions manifest without being expressed through recognisable forms.
The Hybrid Mask series by Yinka Shonibare is intricate, hand-painted masks that consider how African aesthetics have shaped western modernist expression. Using the collections of African artefacts of Georges Braque, André Derain and Amedeo Modigliani as a starting point they are a response to the widely acknowledged influence that African imagery had on major twentieth-century artists and on entire western art movements, such as Cubism, Dada and Surrealism. The work exposes the conflicted relationships between ‘western’ and ‘tribal’, appropriation and admiration.
“I want to challenge notions of cultural authenticity, by creating a composite ideology, ‘a third myth’, exploring appropriation, cultural identity, and the ability to transform beyond what is expected and therefore compels us to contemplate our world differently” - Yinka Shonibare CBE RA.
In Umphanga Wesilokazi Sasentlango, Hlobo uses ribbons and leather on Belgian linen to create organic forms. The work indicates what the artist considers a “slipperiness” to the artmaking process — referencing the aspect of his practice that is formulated on the unconscious. The gestural and free-flowing arrangement of ribbon draws attention to Hlobo’s interest and fascination with water as a source that allows energy to flow. He explains; "Water is central to our existence and everything we are. We are constantly flowing through it.”
Within his practice, Hlobo seeks to capture a feeling (or a thought) which is then illustrated through abstracted forms. Specifically, his work is imbued with meaning through the specific choices of material that have resonance to him — such as leather, copper, bronze and ribbons.
Sunstrum’s multidisciplinary practice encompasses drawing, painting, installation and animation. Her work alludes to mythology, geology and theories on the nature of the universe. Sunstrum’s drawings take the form of narrative landscapes that appear simultaneously futuristic and ancient, shifting between representational and fantastical depictions of volcanic, subterranean, cosmological and precipitous landscapes.
Faith Ringgold is an influential American cultural figure whose work has reflected her political activism and personal story within the context of the anti-racist and African American women’s movement.
Windows of the Wedding is a series comprised of the backdrops used in Ringgold’s Couples series where the artist constructed fantasy weddings for her daughters. Ringgold’s mother made the tanka frames for the twenty paintings that acted as the backdrops. Windows of the Wedding is the artist’s first completely abstract series of paintings. They represent a visual language she was trying to invent based on Kuba designs. Each was intended to be a kind of hanging prayer rug for the couples to meditate with every morning and evening, giving them magic protection and happiness.
Leonardo Drew is known for creating wall-based abstract sculptural works that play on a tension between order and chaos. The artist typically uses manipulated organic materials to create richly detailed works – seemingly bursting from the walls – which resemble densely populated cities, urban wastelands or organic forms and evoke the mutability of the natural world. Materials include wood, cardboard, paint, paper, plastic, rope, string and tree trunks.
Exemplary works of Drew’s approach can be found in Number 354. These elongated silhouettes have the monumentality of a skyscraper, as well as the semblance of an ancient tablet.
Made in Drew’s signature technique, featuring neatly stacked pieces of cut lumber in a dynamic, gridded sculptural relief, they are finished with a matte black wash with a white spinal column in the centre of each panel, which emphasizes vertical rhythm. The white element amidst the black is like a code or a written language – like Braille, a micro-text to decipher. But it is also like a macro view of a densely built city. Drew says: “I think of it as making chaos legible.”
In his work, Jungerman explores the intersection of pattern
and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture, the larger
African diaspora, and 20th-century Modernism. He places
fragments of Maroon textiles and other materials found
in the African diaspora—the kaolin clay used in several
religious traditions or the nails featured in Nkisi Nkondi
power sculpture—in direct contact with materials and
imagery drawn from more “established” art traditions.
Jungerman, therefore, presents a peripheral vision that
both enriches and informs our perspective on art history.
Jungerman’s horizontal works are inspired by the personal
spaces where Winti devotees commune with their spiritual
entities. Horizontals are composed of slats of varying
length, width, and colour, stacked atop one another or
attached with small gaps in between. No matter the variety
of additional elements or seeming randomness of a stack’s
composition, the works always manifest balance. This stems
from the Winti tradition of striving to achieve balance with
Vibha Galhotra is a conceptual artist whose multimedia oeuvre including sculptures, installations, photographs, videos, site-specific work, and public art interventions addresses the shifting topography of a world radically transformed by climate change, consumerism, capitalism, and globalization. Propelled by the constant negotiation between human beings and their ecosystem, Galhotra’s practice utilizes intensive research and intuitive imagination to investigate the social, economic, and political implications of human activity on the environment. She draws from varied disciplines, including the fine arts, ecology, economics, science, spirituality, and political activism to inform a poetic visual response to the environmental changes and restructuring of culture, society, and geography occurring in today’s world.
The project titled Life on Mars encapsulates Galhotra’s artistic inquiry about the earth’s water resources and the possibility of interplanetary living in the age of the Anthropocene, an epoch dominated by mindless human activities. The research began in 2013 with the Rover Curiosity (of NASA’s Mars Mission) finding evidence of water (and hence the possibility of life) on Mars.
The crisis of water, already evident in the many water-related catastrophes and acute shortages, has made Galhotra speculate about the future of this vital resource. This particular work is a culmination of her ecological concern for the planet and interrogation of the dystopian notions of living on another planet. Informed by the possibility of a new race amongst nations triggered by space missions, Galhotra’s project postulates a new scary form of colonisation.
Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible (2015) is a work in neon that furthers Jaar’s preoccupation with provocation and sloganeering, themes informed by his well-quoted statement that ‘images are never innocent’.
The main focus of Jaar’s oeuvre is the politics of images and their effect on modern society that is in his words “bombarded by thousands of images without warning, without mercy, containing messages of consumption crafted by marketing and communications experts”.
The phrase ‘Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible’ is derived from the writings of Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran (1911–1995). This work is part of collections at Toledo Museum of Art and The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College.
“This is idle, clumsy advice I’m giving you. Nobody could follow it. But I wanted just that: to write about this art [tightrope walking] a poem whose heat would flush your cheeks. The idea was not to incrust you, but to inflame you.” - Jean Genet
Before his death in Larache in 1986, the French playwright Jean Genet taught his lover to reproduce his signature, so that after his death the younger man could sell his documents and manuscripts successfully. Genet’s lover, Abdallah Bentaga, was a Moroccan tightrope walker. In the end, he died before Genet, a suicide. The patched and repaired layers of circus flooring reflects on both the story of Jean Genet’s lover and on Barrada’s recurring themes of repair and assemblage.
In its entirety, Digest Archive is a multi-channel video installation consisting of 1,001 videotapes that are permanently sealed in polypropylene video sleeves. The ana-logue contents carried on each buried videotape remain unrevealed. The series of painted tapes is arranged on shallow wooden racks that evoke the display aesthet-ics of video rental stores, commemorating a mode of image consumption that has since slipped into obsolescence.
Each painted tape in the Digest Archive features a single verb drawn from the title of a film that was in circulation during the era of home video. Collectively, the verbs describe an embodied subjectivity that has come under increasing threat in the digital era. First debuted on the Sharjah Biennial 14 (in early 2019), the Digest Archive was completed in late 2020 and shown in full scale for the first time at the Akademie Der Künste in Berlin during 2021. Parallel to the production of the Digest Archive, a limited number of smaller unique works was conceived. Each of the smaller works draws on verbs catalogued in the archive, to propose an open-ended narrative via the selection and juxtaposition of particular verbs: In this instance, the five chosen verbs evoke the violence that has been visited upon those who have been subject to colonialism, invasion, occupation, political dom-ination and various forms of expropriation across history: To capture, to divide, to conquer, to control, to possess... For Breitz, the verbs are collectively descriptive of “the things that white people have done and continue to do.”
Zineb Sedira’s work has enriched the debate around the concepts of modernism, modernity and its manifestations in an inclusive way for over the fifteen years of her practice. She has also raised awareness of artistic expression and the contemporary experience in North Africa.
The series For a Brief Moment the World was on Fire Sedira reflects the artist's interest in what was going on in the 60s - the decade she was born in and one she refers to as a moment in time when the world was on fire. The photomontages collate gathered archival material from archives in Algeria, Paris and London. Sedira makes these works by using old and sometimes damaged documents, healing and restoring the neglected documents to give them a new life. The work also highlights the voices present in the documents that have been neglected.
Zineb Sedira’s immersive installation Dreams Have No Titles was presented at the French Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale. In this installation, Sedira addresses a major turning point in the history of cultural, intellectual and avant-garde production of the 1960s, 1970s and beyond, in France, Italy and Algeria particularly. She focuses on a repertoire of remarkable cinematographic co-productions and filmmaking, in particular activist ones, which had an impact on postcolonial movements.
Shaped by her family experience of emigrating from Algeria to France, her growing up in Paris and eventually moving to London in 1986, Sedira addresses a number of pressing issues ranging from the critique of colonial legacies to the ongoing debate about integration, racism, and globalization. In her practice, she overlaps autobiographical narrative with fiction and documentary to shed light on past and present international solidarities and to pay tribute to the individuals and communities who opened up the possibilities of cinema as a form of emancipation and a tool of resistance.
Mikhael Subotzky is a Johannesburg-based artist whose works in multiple mediums (including film installation, video, photography, collage and painting) attempt to engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation. His works are the results of his fractured attempts to place himself in relation to the social, historical and political narratives that surround him
“At the heart of my work is a fixation with revealing the gap between what is presented (and idealised) and what is hidden, coupled with a desire to pull apart and reassemble the schizophrenia of contemporary existence,” he says.
For the 'Museum Case' series Sue Williamson visited the site of the area formerly known as District Six in Cape Town, which had undergone forced removals during apartheid. Williamson gathered fragments of various ob-jects that had remained in the area following demolition
and cast these fragments in small resin blocks.
‘The pieces both celebrate the liveliness of the community that once was, and are also an indictment of a society that allowed a community to be destroyed until there was nothing left but inert fragments. We are used
to seeing fragments of pre-Columbian clay figures or Roman glass displayed in museums – but in my role as fake
‘museum director’ I have preserved these fragments of a community that was very much alive only fifteen years before the piece was made.’ - Sue Williamson
The series of quilts reimagines the flags of the states of Africa as source material for Willis Thomas’ ongoing quilt practice. Significant national symbols and colours are frag-mented and rearranged into new constellations, using the folkloric quilt patterns of the American Underground Rail-road as a guide. The titles are drawn from famous speeches or quotes from various Pan-Africanist leaders.
“You cannot carry out fundamental change without a cer-tain amount of madness. In this case, it comes from non-conformity, the courage to turn your back on the old formu-las, the courage to invent the future. It took the mad men of yesterday for us to be able to act with extreme clarity today. I want to be one of those mad men. … We must dare to invent the future.”
( Thomas Sankara, excerpted from an interview with Swiss Journalist Jean-Philippe Rapp in 1985. )
This quilt draws on the North Star quilt pattern. A signal with two messages--one to prepare to escape and the other to follow the North Star to freedom in Canada. North was the direction of traffic on the Underground Railroad.
Dennis is a para-disciplinary artist based in Johannesburg. Their practice explores what they call ‘a black consciousness of space’: the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization. Dennis’ work questions the politics of space (and time) through a system-specific, rather than site-specific approach.
The works in the Biko.dialogues series simulate dialogues between Bantu Steve Biko (the leader of the South African black consciousness movement) and other liberation theorists from the black consciousness tradition. These works are digital and physical systems designed to perform poetic conversations between Biko and his intellectual and spiritual counterparts based on a series of keywords extracted from the archive’s these now-dead activists left behind, in the form of interviews, autobiographies, academic theory, poems and court transcripts.
The conscious always operates in relation to its own unconscious. These dialogue works are automated systems for approximating a kind of black liberation dreaming. These simple systems take the archive of black consciousness thought as an archive of black subconsciousness. These artworks perform various automatic readings and writing operations on datasets pulled from the archive, in order to algorithmically reach toward a place of collective dreaming.
These systems use the archive of black conscious literature (from these various activists) as source material for a dataset that is algorithmically recombined to produce new dialogues between Biko and his counterparts, which are then printed in real time as an endless receipt. The receipt acts as a record of these impossible conversations. These works also stage another dream, where Biko had a chance to meet and talk and dream together with other activists in a global black radical tradition.
Namoda is a painter whose work transfigures the cultural mythologies and historical narratives of life in post-colonial Africa, particularly those of the artist’s native Mozambique. Namoda’s paintings are highly elusive, drawing upon literary, cinematic and architectural influences that capture the expansiveness of her specifically Luso-African vantage point. The idiosyncratic subjects who appear and reappear in Namoda’s paintings also convey this hybridity: they emerge from African indigenous religions just as much as they spring from Western mythologies. Her work borrows from an art historical canon and arises from vernacular photography in equal measure. While they appear straightforward, her images are conceptually rigorous and portray figures with complex narratives. Namoda is equally attentive to landscape, creating scenes that depict both the rural and the urban through a surreal lens.
As an artist, Clive van den Berg has been working across various mediums throughout the course of his prolific career, producing a range of works unified by his enduring focus on five interrelated themes: memory, light, landscape, desire, and the body. Embodied in his lush paintings, mixed-media sculptures, delicate prints, films, and public projects, these themes are bound up with the history of his native South Africa and its ongoing ramifications.
For Van den Berg, both the body and the landscape are sites that carry memories and scars and that evoke desires, which he aims to reveal in his work, often through the illuminating power of light. His abstracted canvases of the South African landscape offer an intriguing interpretation into the act and process of painting. In his paintings, Van den Berg presents a new kind of visual language, one that attempts to break syntax without relinquishing its necessity. In this sense, the artist darts between allegory and abstraction in his works, creating these tensions and polarities that simultaneously arrest and excite the viewer when encountering them.
In this work Van den Berg is also interested in what is happening underneath our feet, in the unmapped spaces of earth and organic matter, from the multiple, tiny cellular processes of de and re-composition to the larger refiguring of earthly substance.
David Goldblatt was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his lens, chronicled the people, structures and landscapes of his country from 1948, through the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism, the apartheid regime and into the democratic era - until his death in June, 2018. In particular, Goldblatt documented the people, landscapes and industry of the Witwatersrand, the resource-rich area in which he grew up and lived, where the local economy was based chiefly on mining. In general, Goldblatt's subject matter spanned the whole of the country geographically and politically from sweeping landscapes of the Karoo desert to the arduous commutes of migrant black workers, forced to live in racially segregated areas. His broadest series, which spans six decades of photography, examines how South Africans have expressed their values through the structures, physical and ideological, that they have built.