Arts & Culture

South African Rural Sculpture

Fish-shaped scraper, Thomas Kubai, Rinpopo

Recent history

South Africa has a rich countryside sculptural tradition. In the 1980s, this style of artistic expression gained a new dimension with the advent of self-taught, unaffected local artists.

As a result of the isolation of black South Africans into rural areas, artists living in these areas have created genuine and unconditional works. It reflected not only their traditional values, but also their own life experiences. Although it had little contact with the existing South African art world, it had a huge impact when the work attracted the attention of researchers and galleries, the 1985 exhibition “Tributary” in Johannesburg. It was a big hit when it was exhibited at.

It reflected not only their traditional values, but also their own life experiences. Although it had little contact with the existing South African art world, it had a huge impact when the work attracted the attention of researchers and galleries, the 1985 exhibition “Tributary” in Johannesburg. It was a big hit when it was exhibited at.

Jackson Frunwani

Jackson Flungwani, (1923-2009) He was an individual who felt fortunate to have what he called “a direct connection with God.” His work, which found Zionism early in his life and experienced a personal and fantastic encounter with Jesus, was enthusiastic about his own spiritual experience.

Born in 1923 in northern Venda, the son of an immigrant Tsonga worker, he believed he was among the fewer mortals. He had no value in gaining the status of “artist” and refused to sign his name on his work or was tempted by the temptation of praise.

“Christon Cross”, Jackson Flung Crocodile Noval Foundation

His intricate sculptures were only discovered in the 1980s by scout art critic and curator Ricky Burnett in his 60s, when he was found gently sculpting under a tree near Elim. Here on the hills of Mbohot, he reminds us of the great little Zimbabwean ruins and gods in New Jerusalem with trees, stones and other materials found to celebrate his own brand of mysterious and fantastic Christianity. I built the altar of.

He called it the “map of life.”

By 1989, he was completely discovered by the Johannesburg art scene, but refused to live up to the expectations of the art world, which turned out to be frustrating for those trying to promote his art. His work is conceptually complex. Integrate religious, traditional and technical concerns.

Wooden panel, HlungwaniWooden panel, Hlungwani

He uses indigenous forests to approach figurative formations with delicacy and skill, but utilizes the innate material of the raw materials so that the sculpture has a strong presence. Some of his images, such as fish and crosses, are used consistently, while others are playful, like Jesus playing soccer.

Wooden figure Jackson Frunwani

Hlungwani’s art is reminiscent of our free will. We have a creative spirit and can express our uniqueness through the differences.

Noria Mabasa, b1938- Born in Chigaro, Venda, Mabasa has been working full-time since 1976. She first modeled a small clay sculpture of a drum-striking girl in 1974. Following the dream image, another little girl’s clay figure was drawn.

She works primarily on clay, but also uses wood, which allows her to make sculptures of all sizes. Whatever her dream determines.

In the 1980s she painted clay figures with enamel paint, but nowadays her figures are more rustic in both subject matter and use. When her region achieved independence from the government in 1979, her focus was on making ironic social and political comments on nepotism and corruption that were prevalent within the new authorities. ..

Wood carving Meanwhile, it is much more rooted in the transition to material for her ancestors and images of her dreams. It gave her an exit to show her full potential as a sculptor, traditionally a male profession.

Nelson Mukuba (1925-1987) was a fellow Venda sculptor who exposed the dealer Burnett to Mabasa and was very impressed with her abilities.

His work best illustrates the conflict between First and Third World cultures, and unfortunately Mukaba has become a victim of personal instability. Angry at the arts facility that used him, he killed himself and his family in a ritual killing.

He worked primarily in Jacaranda and Marula, sometimes drawing his figurines, saying, “I am a tree doctor because I can see inside the tree.” His image came from the Bible, dreams, the political “Wolster”, and the personality of television. In fact, it’s a perfect mix of two worlds in which he lived, such as “drunk” and “ballet dancer.”

Dr. Phuthuma Seoka (1922-1997) was another Venda individual who carved from his dreams (“black dog”, “leopard”) and created a political and typical figure with a satirical twist. Works such as “Angry Boer” and “Cross Madam” with sour and aggressive faces show this work as well as his blind-eyed “PW Northa”.

He used strong colors and burned natural wood to decorate his work.

Johannes Maswanganyi, B1948. Maswanganyi is simultaneously producing two types of work with different purposes than other artists in this genre.

It is a decorative enamel-painted work made for commercial use of enamel and a coral work “Nyam Solo Doll” completed by adding a coral charm. Johannes has a broad humanity to the world and continues to explore new ways of expression of all kinds, from satirical portraits of politicians to animal and biblical themes.

Johannes Segogela, b1936. Segogera became a full-time artist in the 1980s and has been represented by the Goodman Gallery since 1987.

Although he is from a strong tribe, his work of embracing Christianity reflects his spiritual enthusiasm and political influence on his culture.

Religious tableaus co-exist with allegorical comments about SA society. Segogera’s appearance is rather stiff but sharply observed, and his installation reveals elements of sensitivity, humor, and irony.

His iconic sculpture “Satan’s Fresh Meat Market” is full of angels and demons and very effectively demonstrates his personal goal of “saving the world from violence and horror.”

South African countryside sculpture is an interesting area to observe due to the disagreement over whether it constitutes art or craft.

It’s important to note that artists living relatively isolated were creating to meet the needs of themselves and the community, not the galleries or the public.

In general, the sculpted works were not made for practical means. Even the hishaku and totem poles featured here were created for ceremonial purposes that are part of the ritual or celebration. From time to time, only the pure nature of wood revealed the theme to the artist, giving it a free-flowing, dynamic shape. Other artists have chosen to express messages from God and spirits, or their personal dreams and visions, in visual reality.

Samsung Muzunga, b 1938, Venda, Dopeni.

Mudzunga’s work was first exhibited at some depth at the Fuba Gallery in Johannesburg in 1988.

His family lived around Lake Hunduji in Venda, a sanctuary of the community, infused with local myths. This influence is reflected in his figurative work on display in the gallery.

In the mid-1990s, he produced large drums that incorporated symbolism from local myths and traditional customs. These drums addressed the issue of power within his community. Samsung has received a lot of acclaim over the last decade for participating in both solo and group exhibitions in Africa and abroad.

Samsung self portraitSamson Mudzunga, self-portrait

There are many other artists that can be included here, but the ones that need to be mentioned are: Albert Munyai, David Murathi, Meshak Paphalalani, Hendrick Nekhof.

Modern countryside sculpture

In recent years, two artists have added new comments to their art while continuing the tradition of rural sculpture. Both Phula Richard Chauke and Philip Lice Rikhotso are award-winning sculptors who live and work in the countryside of Rinpopo, but their art has had a major impact on the world of contemporary art.

Philip Rice Ricozo


Inspired by traditional Tsonga and Shangan folk tales and legends, his work often tells magical stories that describe the sculpted figures of animals, birds, and even those who transform into ant mounds. increase.

His distinctive style includes the common traits of a person with large teeth, oversized eyes, and a crotch-covering hand that hides the sexuality of the creature, usually dominated by humility. (I don’t really understand the figure below!) You can see the logs through. The numbers are partially drawn for emphasis.

Pra Richard Chauke

b In 1979, Limpopo, also from Giani, has many themes that make up his social comments and is sharply and wittyly observed.

-Politicians driving, people of historical or religious status such as Van Leebeck, Shakespeare, Desmond Tutu, Emperor Seracier.

-Women are often carved to represent the circle of life that has been passed down for generations. Mothers, coral, and sisters who endure and repeat patterns of existence.

This portrait of Van Leebeck was amazing, nervous, the explorer’s skin tone was dark and worrisome, and his expression was shocking. The overall effect was understated as a political comment on the impact of Western civilization on Africa.

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