Artist Pitika Ntuli Launches Solo Exhibition At The Virtual National Arts Festival

Sculptor, Pitika Ntuli is set to launch his first exhibition to comprise only of works sculpted in bone at the Virtual National Arts Festival in June. In partnership with the Melrose Gallery, Ntuli will be exploring the healing quality of African art in this set of new work which took three years to complete. Read on to find out how you can experience the exhibition from home.   

The Artist: Pitika Ntuli 

Sculptor, poet, healer, academic and philosopher, Pitika Ntuli wears many a hat. Born in the early 1940s, Ntuli's life and career spans over decades, bringing with it many trials, tribulations and triumphs. His work is dark, witty and contradictory, often positioning the contemporary with the ancient. He works in an array of mediums, including metal, wood, stone and even bone, to produce breathtaking sculptures. As one of the principal artists at the Melrose Gallery, you may be familiar with his work, which can be seen around the Melrose Arch precinct and at the gallery.

Needless to say, it comes as no surprise that Ntuli's latest body of work will be showcased as part of the first ever virtual National Arts Festival in June. The exhibition, which is curated by Ruzy Rusike, will be opened officially by Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, on 25 June 2020.

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The Exhibition: Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source)

Piktia Ntuli has been working on this upcoming exhibition of work for the past three years. Titled Azibuyele Emasisweni (translated as Return to the Source), this body of work is constructed predominantly from the bones of elephant, rhino, giraffe and horses, as well as beads, shells, chains, computer circuit boards, pins, animal skins and marbles. Creating the impression of 'picking up' found objects and cultural symbols, this amalgamation of materials relays an underlying message by the artist - that there is a wealth of untapped knowledge within African spirituality and creative traditions which should be 'picked up' to foster healing in the modern age.

"In indigenous communities, diviners identify fault lines in the community, families, and/ or in people. To do this, they use bones. In Nguni culture specifically, to ‘throw bones’ means to divine the state of things, to help in the healing process. Izangoma (African healers) are central to African spirituality and bones are major agents in the carrying out of their duties in the community. Bones are vital to healing as well as to the process of divination. I am a healer. I throw bones to divine the State of the Nation in the season of anomie! As a sangoma/ healer, I see divination bones as sculptures imbued with multiple meanings. I believe that bones have spirits and consciousness, and it is that, that I seek to reveal in this exhibition," Pitika Ntuli says.

The Virtual National Arts Festival 

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the annual National Arts Festival has had to undergo a major reconstruction. With only 100 days till the kickoff of the 2020 festival, the organisers made the announcement that this year the NAF would be going digital! For the first time ever, the NAF will take place entirely online, bringing audiences throughout South Africa and the world 11 days of amazing theatre, music, dance, sculpture, visual art and poetry showcases.

The Melrose Gallery has also jumped on board, finding unique and interactive ways to be part of this historic virtual festival. As the sponsors for Ntuli's latest exhibition, the Melrose Gallery will present his work in a virtual viewing room on its website for the duration of the National Arts Festival and beyond. However, this will be more than just a series of snapshots of the exhibition. Ntuli has written and recited poems for each photographed artwork, thus creating a truly immersive and interactive experience for the viewers.

Ntuli has also invited 30 high-profile and respected artists, poets, singers, writers, curators and academics to engage with him on each work. Each of the collaborators will submit a poem, song, essay or thought as an audio note which will also accompany each piece. The artist will also be conducting online chats about the exhibition, life, African spirituality and the impacts of COVID-19 on our times, in collaboration with other academics, artists and spiritual philosophers. These pre-recorded chats and all other content will be available for viewing in the exhibition viewing room and will be broadcast on the National Arts Festival platform. Come and engage with the content and conversations via likes, shares, messages and comments online.

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When Is It?

The exhibition runs from Thursday, 25 June 2020 to Sunday, 02 August 2020.

Where Is It?

The exhibition will be showcased on the Melrose Gallery website, as well as the National Arts Festival online platform.

How Much Is It?

The exhibition is free to view.

For More Information

Visit www.themelrosegallery.com for more information. Join the conversation on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Details: (Tel) +27 (0)837 776 644 | [email protected]

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