A Strange Song curated by Candice Thikeson


14 OCTOBER 2022 – 18 JANUARY 2023



Monday – Sunday

09h00 – 17h00

Entrance is free.

A Strange Song 

Curated by Candice Thikeson

14 October 2022 – 17 January 2023

Norval Foundation is pleased to present A Strange Song, an exhibition comprising of works thoughtfully selected from the Homestead Collection. The Homestead Collection, housed at Norval Foundation, consists of an extensive collection of artworks by twentieth-century South African artists, and a growing collection of artworks by contemporary artists on the African continent and its diaspora.

A Strange Song is an opportunity to share a number of recent acquisitions, while reflecting on the range of artists, artistic practices and artistic periods within the collection at present. The title of the exhibition, poetic in nature, is borrowed from a recent portrait by Mozambican artist Cassi Namoda, which was included in her solo exhibition titled Life has become a foreign language (2022). Namoda’s portrait, with its rich tones and soft landscape also introduces the exhibition and sets the tone for the kind of artworks exhibited in this show. The artworks selected for A Strange Song are predominantly figurative, often possessing vibrant colours and are rich with symbolism, speaking to various cultural mythologies. Figuration is at the forefront of the exhibition, many of the artists creating works which are explicitly of bodily forms or suggest the presence of the body. It is thus important to consider how these artists, from Africa, engage with portraiture as a genre as well as the nude tradition in their work. Many of these figurative paintings, nudes and portraits alike, also explore the landscape – both real, surreal and imagined.

Through the inclusion of various animals such as birds, oxen, horses and snakes the artists imbue their paintings with symbolism. There are three paintings in the exhibition by the figurative painter, Cassi Namoda. The earliest is her work which was shortlisted for the inaugural Norval Sovereign African Art Prize (NSAAP) titled Visit from ancestors III (2021). In this work a woman draped in red fabric looks through the window as she is visited by a pink bird, presumably a flamingo, which the viewer reads as the ancestors Namoda refers to in the title of her painting.

A Strange Song also focuses on artists who have engaged with themes of spirituality and transcendence in their work. While some of the artists in the exhibition approach spirituality directly through a reflection on organised religions and spiritual practices, as in the work of John N. Muafangejo, others approach spirituality more subtly, perhaps philosophically.

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