In an exchange of programming between galleries, Frida Orupabo, Mawande Ka Zenzile, Simphiwe Ndzube and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi exhibit at Kiang Malingue’s Tin Wan space in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. Simultaneously, a show of works by Tao Hui, Tromarama and Wang Zhibo takes place at Stevenson in Amsterdam.
For all four artists from Stevenson’s programme this show marks their Hong Kong debut, each presenting artworks that articulate the key concerns of their respective practices.
Frida Orupabo’s presentation of video, sculpture and collage, all created from found material, highlights the artist’s process of excavation and retrieval. Orupabo’s lexicon, developed from restricted and archival footage of black subjects, weaponises remembrance to explore questions related to race, family relations, gender, sexuality and violence.
Mawande Ka Zenzile’s recent paintings, created using cow dung and oil paint, foreground his ongoing project of ‘decolonising visualities’. His non- representational works, often likened to western conventions of abstraction, bring specific focus to isiXhosa modalities and the broader aesthetic sensibilities of indigenous South Africans. Ascended Masters, a text work, takes this further, uniting spiritual, intellectual and philosophical leaders from diﬀerent contexts to better debunk the illusion of their separateness.
Following a body of work in which the artist worked from photographs and found images, Simphiwe Ndzube’s new paintings mark a return to the flamboyant mysticism of his imaginative universe, The Mine Moon. These two-dimensional works as well his Amagents sculptures move between folklore and township vernacular, to combine the figurative and the fantastical in a mode that is characteristic of Ndzube’s magical realism.
In her new suite of figurative paintings, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi continues to use sport as an allegorical environment for her analysis of power relations. These large-scale group-scenes – depicting athletes at rest, in preparation and in communion – are minimally rendered to pointedly evaluate history, imperialism and the endurance of camaraderie.
The conversation about this joint project started when Stevenson partner Joost Bosland and Lorraine Kiang met through the organizing committee of the International Galleries Alliance. The galleries shared an interest in alternative models for global reach that are open to midsize galleries, beyond digital presentations and art fairs. One prime asset that all galleries already have is their physical spaces, designed and maintained with great care. Sharing this asset in specific strategic ways as well as their networks and highly specialised knowledge of the local audience allows them to thrive in ways that are particularly in tune with what art is all about.
Ka Zenzile was born in Lady Frere, Eastern Cape, in 1986. He has a MA Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. He won the Tollman Award for Visual Art in 2014, the Michaelis Prize in 2013, and was shortlisted for the inaugural Norval Sovereign African Art Prize. He was among three artists selected for the South African Pavilion of the 2019 Venice Biennale, curated by Nomusa Makhubu and Nkule Mabaso under the title The Stronger We Become.
Ndzube was born in 1990 in Hofmeyr, Eastern Cape, and lives in Los Angeles. He has a BA Fine Art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Oracles of the Pink Universe, the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in the United States, took place at the Denver Art Museum in 2021, and his first institutional exhibition in Asia, Waiting for Mulungu, took place at CC Foundation, Shanghai in 2018. He is the recipient of the Culture Creators ‘Innovators & Leaders’ Award in Art (2019), the Tollman Award for Visual Art (2016), the Michaelis Prize (2015), the Simon Gerson Prize (2015) and the Cecil Skotnes Scholarship (2013) at UCT.
Nkosi was born in 1980 in New York. She was raised there, in Harare and Johannesburg, where she now lives. She obtained her BA from Harvard University (2004) and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York (2008). Nkosi divides her time between studio work, performance, and navigating the field of art as social practice. She presented Equations for a body at rest at East Side Projects and across public spaces in Birmingham as part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Nkosi is the recipient of the Philippe Wamba Prize in African Studies (2004), and the Tollman Award for the Visual Arts (2019).
Frida Orupabo was born in 1986 in Sarpsborg, Norway, and lives in Oslo. Solo exhibitions include How Fast Shall We Sing as part of the 53rd edition of the Rencontres d’Arles (2022); I have seen a million pictures of my face and still I have no idea, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2022); How did you feel when you come out of the wilderness, Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway (2021); Medicine for a Nightmare, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo; The Mouth and the Truth, Portikus, Frankfurt am Main (2019). Orupabo was shortlisted for the 2021 Future Generation Art Prize.
Frida Orupabo, Mawande Ka Zenzile, Simphiwe Ndzube, Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi Group Show
Photo by Wong Pak Hang