This week in African art and culture, we find a stellar opportunity offered by one of Africa’s most renowned contemporary art museums in collaboration with a university, for a one-year fellowship with them.
On art exhibitions, we present snippets of exciting exhibitions on view in Los Angeles and London by artists from Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, all exploring unique materials, media and fascinating anecdotes.
The highest monetary prize for literature in Nigeria has announced its shortlist, and three outstanding writers are anticipating coveting the $100,000 prize.
Following a successful cinema run and smashing box-office record for her first two movies, a formidable Nigerian female director continues on her trailblazing streak with her third release on Netflix.
Zeitz MOCAA in Collaboration with University of Western Cape Offers a Museum Fellowship Program
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa recently announced an opportunity for a new generation of art and museum professionals in Africa. The program is ideal for individuals who are interested in further developing their careers in art museums, galleries, art centers, private and public collection management, biennials, art publishing, art festivals and related fields.
Slated to commence in 2022, the Zeitz MOCAA & University of Western Cape (UWC) Museum Fellowship Program has been created to contribute towards the redefinition of curatorial practice as well as art history scholarship on contemporary art discourse from the continent. This Pan-African program endeavors to foster knowledge production around curatorial practice, arts administration, and heritage management. It offers fellows exposure to museum practice, is facilitated both by Zeitz MOCAA senior staff and underpinned by academic rigor in contemporary art scholarship through facilitation byUniversity of Western Cape’s outstanding faculty in the field of humanities.
Based in Cape Town, which is fast becoming a major global art center, the program will offer participants a rich exploration of the fundamental networks and systems that contribute towards the city’s art and heritage ecosystem.
Five successful applicants will be selected and expected to participate in the full 12-month study program on a full-time basis starting February 2022 to February 2023. Eligible applicants preferably have a bachelor’s degree in an art, heritage or museum studies or other relevant humanities field, with a demonstrated capacity to work at a postgraduate level; knowledge of contemporary art and heritage from Africa and the African Diaspora; excellent writing skills; two to three years of relevant work experience; citizenship in an African country; and proficiency in English.
These successful fellows will contribute actively to the research, planning, execution and management of Zeitz MOCAA projects, ranging from exhibitions, publishing, public programming, art education and fundraising.
The program is modeled on a one-year tenure, where fellows will study and work with both institutions towards an accredited Bachelor of Arts Honorsqualification. The program will cover tuition, accommodation, basic health insurance and a monthly stipend. Travel and visa costs are not included.
Both Zeitz MOCAA and the University of Western Cape (UWC) celebrate diversity in all its forms including gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.
Deadline for application is Sept. 30, 2021, and successful applicants will be contacted by Oct. 30, 2021.
Above: Olu Amoda | Hang Out II | stainless steel | 2021
Rele Gallery Presents Free Form by Olu Amoda in Los Angeles
Rele Gallery has opened its Los Angeles branch with a solo exhibition featuring recent works by Nigerian sculpture and metal artist, Olu Amoda. Titled Free Form, the exhibition features small-scale metal sculptures that Amoda has created—from parts sourced from fabricator shops and forge offcuts—to examine the quality and latent energy of material as well as the irregularity of form. With this body of work, he continues a career-long dialogue with materiality and the transformation of objects found from the debris of consumer culture.
Amoda has a proven, varied and dynamic oeuvre that includes sculptures, murals, furniture designs and multimedia installations. With this exhibition, he offers a less structured engagement with metal as compared to his more popular method of intricate arrangement and dense layering seen in works like his Sunflower series (2014), which garnered acclaim along with a grand prize at the 11th Dak’art Biennale in 2014. The works here are looser, allowing for a more intimate engagement with material and manipulation technique beyond the represented forms.
From solitary figures dressed in elaborate attires and shown in various stages of movement to groups of figures in companionship, the works in Free Forms also explore social issues and personalities; from the effects of the pandemic on social gatherings to fashion aesthetics, and dynamic figures inspired by popular culture.
Olu Amoda, who lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria and in Atlanta, U.S. has worked consistently over the past four decades to create a sculptural language with unique character and beauty. Amoda graduated in sculpture from Auchi Polytechnic, Nigeria, and received a Masterof Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University, U.S. He also taught drawing and sculpture construction at the Yaba College of Technology, from 1987–2019, before he voluntarily retired in protest of politicization and declined sabbatical leave.
Some of the exhibitions he has participated in include the Victoria and Albert Museum (U.K.), the Museum of Art and Design (New York), Skoto Gallery (New York), Georgia Southern University (U.S.), Didi Museum (Nigeria), WIPO Headquarters (Switzerland) and Art Twenty One (Nigeria), among others.
Free Form is on view at Rele Gallery, Los Angeles until Oct. 9, 2021.
Above: Sam Nhlengethwa | Frank Sinatra | mixed media on canvas | 2021
Sam Nhlengethwa’s Jazz and Blues at Night at Goodman Gallery, London
At Goodman Gallery, London, an exhibition titled Jazz and Blues at Night by South African artist Sam Nhlengethwa is on view. As can be inferred from the title, these new works—in a series of prints, tapestries and mixed media collage works—intricately explore jazz music as its focus. The artist does this by paying homage to the musicians that have inspired him throughout his five–decades-long artistic career.
Over the course of his career, Nhlengethwa—dubbed by critics “one of the country’s most celebrated living artists”—has developed a distinctive collage and painting practice while exploring themes common to everyday life in South Africa, from the street life, to domestic interiors, to the influence of mining. Intrinsic to this practice is Nhlengethwa’s love of jazz.
From the age of 15, Nhlengethwa was exposed to the genre through his two older brothers, who listened to everything from the classic standards of artists such as Miles Davis and Dave Brubek to the more experimental sounds of Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy and Charles Mingus, to name a few.
“My life belongs to the jazz world, because I don’t spend a day in my studio without listening to jazz in the background,” said Nhlengethwa. With a collection of over 4,000 vinyls, Nhlengethwa views his records as “art material,” likening the experience of listening while working to a dialogue. “I don’t think I could be who I am, what I’m doing in the art world, if there was no jazz,” he continued. “It is my daily inspiration.”
Jazz and Blues at Night features the first–ever public display of pages from Nhlengethwa’s sketchbooks dating back to the 1980s. These drawings form a sort of note taking for Nhlengethwa, who would carry along his sketchbooks wherever he went, finding inspiration in jazz clubs, restaurants and buskers on the street. The selected sketches represent over a decade’s worth of these drawings, which themselves served more as ideas for Nhlengethwa than actual blueprints for his work.
Although Nhlengethwa is an experienced and acclaimed artist, this exhibition marks his first solo exhibition in London and will be on view until Sept. 25, 2021.
Above: Installation view: Serge Attukwei Clottey | Distinctive Gestures | Gallery 1957, London | 2021
Gallery 1957 Presents Distinctive Gestures by Serge Attukwei Clottey in London
Also in London, Gallery 1957 is showing works by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey in an exhibition titled, Distinctive Gestures. Described as his immediate translation of the body observed on social media, this selection of work explores themes of identity and the politics behind body language by comparing the expression and gesture of subjects from the 1950s and ’60s to those of today.
The Tondos series reinterprets the body language and facial gestures of mid-century black–and–white photography in intimate Ghanaian spaces such as barbering salons. These spaces are known even today to foster uniquely intimate social relationships and serve as sites for community building and gathering. Through Clottey’s work, we are invited to reflect on the expressions of men at the middle of the century.
In the Sex and Politics pastel drawings, Clottey reflects on his own social media engagement and its proliferation of one-sided relationships, where, on one end, a persona can be cultivated by an “influencer” or “user,” and is received on the other by a “follower.”
In To Be A Man, the artist abstracts the tendency of Western ideals of masculinity—spread by social media to influence the preoccupation of contemporary men living in countries such as Ghana and the Congo—with new ways of communicating wealth and virility.
This is also Clottey’s first solo show at Gallery 1957’s London outpost and can be viewed until Sept. 10, 2021.
Above: Book covers of the 2021 NLNG Literary Prize Shortlist
Shortlist for the 2021 NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature Announced
The NLNG Prize for Literature, one of Africa’s most coveted literary prizes, has announced its shortlist for this year’s edition. Worth $100,000, the prize ranks as the richest literary prize in Africa.
The Nigerian Prize for Literature, sponsored annually by oil firm NLNG, was started in 2004 to honorNigerian authors of literature and rotates among four genres: fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature, repeating the cycle every four years. This year, the genre of focus is fiction, and the three shortlisted authors vying for the prize are Abi Daré, Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Obinna Udenwa for their works, The Girl With The Louding Voice, The Son of The House and The Colours of Hatred respectively.
The judging panel for 2021 is led by the Chairman Professor Toyin Jegede, who is a professor of literature in English at the University of Ibadan. The other judges are Professor Tanimu Abubakar and Dr. Solomon Azumurana. Prof. Abubakar is a professor of literature in the art faculty at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Dr.Azumurana is a senior lecturer in the department of English at the University of Lagos.
The judges, in their report, described the novels as full of suspense and intrigue. They stated that the novels “tell human and indeed universal stories of rural as against urban life, suffering and survival, loss and redemption, decline and renaissance, destruction and reconstruction, and death and rebirth.”
The winner will be announced by the NLNG advisory board in
Above: Movie poster for King of Boys: Return of the King
Nigerian Filmmaker Kemi Adetiba’s King of BoysSequel is All the Rage
Throughout the month of August, anticipation was at an all-time high for the phenomenal Nigerian filmmaker Kemi Adetiba’s series, King of Boys: Return of the King. One of the Netflix originals announced last year, the crime thriller, created as a limited series that was released on Aug. 27, has been enjoying raves and non-stop positive reviews online. This comes as no surprise, as Adetiba has continuously pushed the limits and broken sales records since her movie directorial debut with The Wedding Party.
In October 2018, Kemi Adetiba’s sophomore film, King of Boys was released. It received rave reviews and grossed ₦200 million (U.S. $486,000)by its seventh week in the box office before selling exclusive streaming rights to Netflix in 2020. Since its release,King of Boys: The Return of the King sits at number one, and the three-year–old King of Boys at number twoon Netflix’s Top 10 in Nigeria. And it might not be overreaching to say this position would stay true if Netflix had a “Top 10 in Africa” ranking on its app.
The series, which follows the story of its protagonist, Eniola Salami (played by Sola Sobowale and Toni Tones), is a dark, crime and political show. It tells the story about her efforts to reassert herself in power after her return from a five-year exile. She attempts to turn her underworld might into legitimate political power—this time aiming even higher than before.
The series has received positive reviews from critics, who praised the direction, cinematography, action sequences and performances. With its returning cast and new additions like Nse Ikpe-Etim and Charles “Charly Boy” Oputa, (who have been commended for their outstanding performance in the film), more costumes and locations, it is safe to assume that King of Boys: The Return of the King has surpassed its predecessor in budget and turnover.
Upon the release of this film, Kemi Adetiba has been showered with many phenomenal praises including being a visual goddess. With the success streak in all three films she’s directed in the last five years, it will be difficult to contest her immortality.
Compiled by Roli O’tsemaye