Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Oslo, Sweden 04 May 2019 - 21 Sep 2019
“He needed to hear Africa speak for itself after a lifetime of hearing Africa spoken about by others.” Chinua Achebe
For its spring 2019 season opening, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium in Oslo is delighted to host a major survey show of contemporary artistic practice across the African continent. Curated by London-based Norwegian gallerist Kristin Hjellegjerde, Kubatana is the result of nearly two years of research, and brings together the works of 33 artists from 18 of Africa’s 54 countries across all four floors of the museum – one of the most expansive exhibitions of African art in Scandinavia to date. The variety of media and styles present – as well as themes and topics explored – reflect the immense cultural wealth and diversity of a continent home to multiple races, creeds, languages and cultures.
Kubatana (meaning ‘togetherness’ in the Shona language of Zimbabwe) invites us to discover the new and exciting ways in which African artists are working today, as well as reconsider the many stereotypes associated with Africa that still prevail. The last 10 years have witnessed a rapid growth in contemporary art from Africa, leading to exponential recognition on the global art scence, as evidenced by major solo exhibitions at international institutions, art fairs such as 1:54 and the rising success of art from Africa as a genre at major auction houses.
The works Hjellegjerde has selected span multiple styles and eras, from photography dating back to the 1970s to new video works, wall pieces, textile works and paintings and sculptures. The themes they cover are just as diverse, from personal histories and collective mythologies all the way to freedom of speech, the investigation of colonial histories, and contemporary social and urban issues. These are particularly prevalent as African countries deal with new political and economic realities in the 21stcentury.
The exhibition also features a spectacular yellow wall hanging by Ghanaian Serge Attulowei Clottey, created in his village in Accra, which will partially cover the museum’s façade. Made out of cut-up water gallon containers, Clottey’s work brings material to the fore. This celebration of material is found across Kubatana, including textile work by Abdoulaye Konaté, the use of deactivated weapons of war by Gonçalo Mabunda from Mozambique, and the wooden wall mosaics of Nigerian Gerald Chukwuma.
Spanning an entire continent, the works of this diverse group of artists are united through an investigation of past and present that sees materials transformed and stories, histories and messages parsed and processed into a new visual language.