NEW YORK — South African ceramist and founder of Imiso Ceramics studio Andile Dyalvane says his work is inseparable from his birthplace and from his spirituality. In a 2015 interview with Creative Feel magazine, the artist said: “Spirituality is what connects me to clarity; when seeing becomes a partnership between my source, ancestors and their god relations and myself. The ability to give over to not knowing, but trusting what my work will become, and practicing by setting it free is an everyday lesson.”
Perhaps trust is what caused Dyalvane to title his upcoming solo show at the Friedman Benda gallery (New York, June 23 – August 19) Camagu. The title is a Xhosa term that means “gratitude.” In an interview with SA Creative Network, the artist said the word was a kind of creative mantra for him. The title could be an invocation of sorts; by hardwiring it into his work, his true emotions will shine through. The gallery had this to say in describing his exhibition:
I’ve always wanted to do a solo show, creating works I’d only ever dreamed of producing.
It’s been my chance to realize designs that would otherwise have remained in my sketchbooks. Camagu references my gratitude.
Camagu is the first solo exhibition in America for South African artist Andile Dyalvane. The show includes approximately 30 large-scale clay works.
Camagu loosely translates from Xhosa to English as ‘I am grateful’ and is a spiritual expression of gratitude from Dyalvane to his ancestors. It also functions as a mantra for his practice, and he stamps the phrase on many of his works.
Taken as a whole, Camagu reads as a landscape of small architectures, illustrating a confluence of Dyalvane’s daily urban experience in Cape Town merged with the vernacular of his rural birthplace in the Eastern Cape.
The exhibition is populated by intricately shaped open and closed vessels, hanging and standing lamps, shelves, and screens, all of which bear incisions, stampings, and other marks. Inspired by ancestral practices and motifs, the incised symbols that detail each work act as homage to the significance of scarification rituals in the Xhosa culture. Traces of these traditions appear in his ceramic forms, where he uses bolts and typewriter keys found in street markets to create elaborate surface impressions.
A monumental wall hanging and one of the centerpieces of the exhibition is comprised of 17 of parts; color, surface modulations, and organicism are in flux, as they are in a city center. A two-part ceramic and wood screen is layered with vibrant and subtle stripes of color, suggesting speed. Multi-planar, angular forms mimic the new skyscrapers being constructed near Dyalvane’s studio in Cape Town. These bold forms simultaneously serve as elements of functionality and structural integrity—values integral to every piece by Dyalvane.
Andile Dyalvane was born in Ngobozana, a small village in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa in 1978. He received a National Degree in Art and Design from Sivuyile Technical College in 1999 and a National Degree in Ceramic Design from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2003. He is the founder of Imiso Ceramics in South Africa’s Western Cape. He has exhibited extensively in South Africa and has been awarded residencies in Denmark, France, the United States, and Taiwan. Dyalvane’s work is in the permanent collections of the Iziko National Museum, Cape Town, South Africa; Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum of Art, Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and Yingge Ceramic Museum, Taipei, Taiwan.
Text (edited) courtesy of the gallery.
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