In a momentous artistic showcase, Southern Guild inaugurates its latest gallery in the heart of Los Angeles, presenting a dual spectacle that promises to captivate art enthusiasts and cultural aficionados alike.
The exhibition comprises the solo presentation, Indyebo yakwaNtu (Black Bounty), by the acclaimed South African sculptor, Zizipho Poswa, and a collaborative effort titled Mother Tongues, featuring the works of 25 distinguished artists from the African continent.
A Vision Realized: Indyebo yakwaNtu by Zizipho Poswa
Zizipho Poswa, a luminary in the realm of South African sculptors, unveils her magnum opus, Indyebo yakwaNtu, an unparalleled technical feat in her illustrious career.
The exhibition encompasses five colossal ceramic and bronze sculptures, towering over 8 feet tall. Poswa meticulously crafted these clay bodies during an extensive residency at the Center for Contemporary Ceramics (CCC) at California State University Long Beach.
Guided by the venerable American ceramic artist Tony Marsh, co-founder of CCC, Poswa joined the ranks of over 200 artists from 20 countries who have been welcomed as esteemed guests at this influential artistic hub.
A Tapestry of African Heritage: Unveiling the Meaning of “Indyebo yakwaNtu”
Translated from Xhosa, the term “indyebo” conveys the essence of material riches, encapsulating the vast cultural, economic, intellectual, and spiritual wealth of Africans.
In this body of work, Poswa elevates objects of African beautification and ritual, immortalizing the significance these amulets hold. The exhibition is a testament to Poswa’s ancestral mission: a celebration of the innate beauty and cultural richness of the continent.
Pan-African Aesthetic: Drawing from Africa’s Mineral Wealth
Poswa’s approach in Indyebo yakwaNtu is undeniably Pan-African, tapping into the continent’s mineral wealth to create a creative collection that has shaped African identity.
With bronze crowns adorning her sculptures, Poswa pays homage to early African civilizations. She draws inspiration from the traditional healing customs, polytheistic practices, and cosmological knowledge embedded in her amaXhosa culture’s Kemetic heritage.
The series of sculptures in Indyebo yakwaNtu serves as a praise song to the rich cultural tapestry of early African civilizations. Poswa meticulously traces influences from the Nubian kingdom, which spread its wealth of gold, ivory, and ebony along the Nile, contributing to the cultural mosaic across North and East Africa.
Celebrating Women’s Authority
Poswa’s art transcends mere representation; it delves into the authoritative positions held by women in African societies. A sculpture modelled on a bead adornment worn by the Asantehemaa, the queen mother of the Asante people, celebrates the influential roles women played in the Akan Kingdom.
Another work pays homage to the Lobi people in Burkina Faso and the Fulani women in West Africa, showcasing the symbolic significance of finely forged gold earrings.
Indyebo yakwaNtu seamlessly weaves a narrative through diverse African cultures. The majestic bronze reproduction of an ornate brass hairpin design recalls the Lobi people’s heritage in Burkina Faso. In a piece titled Fulani, Poswa captures the essence of the finely forged gold earrings traditionally worn by Fulani women across different regions.
Poswa’s artistic exploration extends closer to home, referencing the Xhosa “isacholo” bracelet in a piece that celebrates the heritage of her people. The isacholo, believed to hold healing properties, is adorned by elderly Xhosa women and symbolizes purity, clarity, and mediation.
Beyond Adornment: Jewellery as Cultural Legacy
Indyebo yakwaNtu underscores the significance of jewellery beyond its material value. Passed through generations as family heirlooms, these artefacts carry cultural, geographic, sentimental, and matrilineal significance.
Poswa’s artistic journey, from crowns to ceremonial dowries, stands as a homage to the community of women who shaped her while drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of the African continent.
Poswa’s words echo the conscientious approach she employs in her artistic endeavours. Indyebo yakwaNtu is not just an exhibition; it is an anthropological excavation, weaving together socio-cultural and spiritual elements that underpin African creation.
As Poswa states, “I am inspired by conscious design,” and this exhibition is a testament to her commitment to preserving and celebrating African heritage through art.
This exhibition, along with the collaborative effort Mother Tongues, marks a significant milestone in the global appreciation of African contemporary art. As the gallery doors open, visitors are invited to immerse themselves in a visual odyssey that transcends boundaries, celebrating the diversity, richness, and profound cultural legacy of the African continent.