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Raji Bamidele's 'As Above, So Below.' 2a (left) and 2b (right), 2021. Oil, acrylic and gold-leaf on canvas.
Raji Bamidele's 'As Above, So Below.' 2a (left) and 2b (right), 2021. Oil, acrylic and gold-leaf on canvas.
Image: Supplied/Absa

The Absa Art Hot Spot may be a virtual gallery, but the pieces in its latest exhibition are a very real example of the talent of young African artists.

Brought to you by Absa in partnership with the SA National Association for the Visual Arts, this group show is titled The Resilience of the Human Spirit — a theme that “speaks to the many trials and tribulations people have been going through [over the past two years]," says Dr Paul Bayliss, Absa’s senior specialist art curator.

It features recent works by the 2019 winners of the prestigious annual Absa L’Atelier art competition: Raji Bamidele from Nigeria, Winifrid Luena from Tanzania and Nkhensani Rihlampfu from SA.

Winifrid Luena's 'Self-Portrait IV', 2021. Edition of 3 + 2 AP (AP 1/2). Photographic print on satin paper.
Winifrid Luena's 'Self-Portrait IV', 2021. Edition of 3 + 2 AP (AP 1/2). Photographic print on satin paper.
Image: Supplied/Absa

“Bamidele, Luena and Rihlampfu’s art looks at the human body as a contradiction of being both weak and strong, fragile and robust, while focusing on the duality and dualism of the human spirit,” says Bayliss.

“It is essentially the resilience of the human spirit that allows us to keep moving forward. It keeps us alive, forcing us to achieve more, to overcome obstacles and, in short, to endure. Often, the circumstances we experience can lead to a regeneration of the soul and a renewed purpose to prevail.”

Bamidele, who is known for his “Afro-Contemporealism” style, says his “work examines the everyday, innermost activities of mankind, exploring personal and political narratives, focusing mostly on the resilience of the human spirit”.

Luena’s art is a study of individuality over individualism.

“There is a sense in the world at times that being an individual is a collective process — that it is part of a larger argument intended to bring some kind of human liberation, that it is an act of authority and power over the self — which is why I divide these two terms,” he says.

Nkhensani Rihlampfu's 'In the middle of the storm 2', 2021. Cotton Stings and acrylic on canvas.
Nkhensani Rihlampfu's 'In the middle of the storm 2', 2021. Cotton Stings and acrylic on canvas.
Image: Supplied/Absa

Rihlampfu aims to expose the manipulation of communication through gesture and assumption by using fantastical figures to immerse viewers in a reality founded in perception.

“The work exists in the overlapping margin between truth and ideology; it is in this space that we each discover our identity and acknowledge the importance of communication. We are presented with familiar structures and recognisable characteristics, but never definitive facts,” he says.

“In partnership with Absa, we always pride ourselves in helping to develop young artists from across the continent,” says Avi Sooful, national president of the South African National Association for the Visual Arts. “I think this exhibition comes at a time when we need to see our artists back doing what they love to do, which is [making] art.”

As Absa L’Atelier ambassadors, Bamidele, Luena and Rihlampfu will not only be participating in this group show, but they will each have a solo exhibition at the Absa Art Gallery in Joburg within the next five years.

The Resilience of the Human Spirit is on until the end of January 2022. Click here to explore this virtual exhibition.

This article was paid for by Absa.


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