Kumnyama Kubomvu: The Land Is Ours, a solo exhibition by Clive Sithole, opens on Friday, 20 October 2023, at the KZNSA Gallery, Durban, South Africa. The exhibition opening features a performance by KwaZulu-Natal based vocalist and uMakhweyane maestro, Zawadi Yamagu.
Sithole, now a mid-career artist, draws on Zulu cultural and ritual experience as they relate to the land, and expertly weaves them into his ceramic work, offering a profound exploration of themes that resonate with complexities of land and displacement, connection and belonging, as well as humanity.
Sithole was born in Soweto in 1971 during the height of apartheid to a seamstress and a renowned jazz musician. Throughout his life, drawing on the inspiration provided by his Zulu culture and ancestors, Sithole has worked with material cultural expressions such as headrests, hairstyles, spoons and clay Ukhamba (vessels) to uncover their (and by implication, his own) significance and history. Sithole employs rich traditional Zulu techniques, symbols and firing methods to explore critical social issues such as land, race, politics and culture. His work is infused with an urban sensibility and deep-seated rural connection and longing. Cattle, both as figurative sculptures and symbols of cultural identity and wealth, frequently appear in his narrative and iconography.
In contemporary South Africa, occupying space, whether it be a gallery or the land, reflects the intricate socio-political landscape of the nation. Kumnyama Kubomvu: The Land Is Ours underscores how art and cultural spaces are harnessed to confront, challenge and redefine the discourse surrounding land related issues. Sithole’s current work at the KZNSA offers us a haunting beauty, fashioned by masterful hands. At the same time, this local artist who also operates internationally creates a dynamic dialogue addressing the on-going quest for justice and reconciliation. in a nation deeply marked by dispossession and inequality.
The exhibition is curated by Thina Miya and runs from 20 October 2023 – 12 November 2023.