Chris Soal, an artist you don’t want to miss

On the Affordable Artfaire Amsterdam, Clifton Boulder Gallery presents the work of the South African young, emerging artist Chris Soal to the European public.

This presentation is the result of an encounter with Chris in Johannesburg. The nice thing about working with artists is that the first encouter is always with a work of art, and only secondarily, driven by the magic of the work, with the artist. We saw Chris’ work in a group exhibition at the Assamblage (an artist collective) in Johannesburg and were instantly fascinated by his two, at first glance, different pieces. Who is this artist! We met an artist par excellence; young and passionate, curious and open to the world around him. His art is inspiring, courageous, sometimes excessive, sometimes more subdued. An artist who can and will not be bound. It is the differences in his work that unit Chris.

In his work, Chris makes use of various media, such as oil paint and printing, and of products as found materials. With these media, he makes artworks that confront, challenge and perhaps comfort. The viewer sees a broad spectrum of works, which, in the eyes of Chris, are highly connected to each other. They narrate about the same themes, represented in a highly personal way.

Chris’s body of work has thus far focused mainly on themes of labour, the built environment and human interaction, and on the physical manifestations of collective thinking and action.

Chris, living in a society with major challenges, sees many arreas in which they overlap, arreas where he zooms in, searching for the sub-themes which emerge.
To propel himselve, Chris will always search for and find new projects and ways, in order to shape these important issues.

For Clifton Boulder Gallery, it is a great honor to add Chris Soal’s facinating artworks to the protfolio of the gallery – and knows that the fascination with this work will strike at anyone.

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Art from Africa, how to define it?

Clifton Boulder Gallery is specialized in African contemporary art, for no other reason than – as stated on our site – that we are greatly impressed by the beauty, power and expressiveness of these works. But what is African contemporary art and how can it be defined?

This blog is based on  the interview isssue ‘ArtSouthAfrica’, volume 13, issue 1, september 2014, especially on the contributions of:
Valerie Kabov and Marcus Gora, co-founders and directors of First Floor Gallery, Harare, Zimbabwe
Simon Njami, curator, lecturor, art critic and novelist, Paris
Kendell Geers, artist, South Africa/Belgium

Malibongwe Tyilo, fashion and desing blogger, South Africa

Joseph Gergel, curator and writer, Nigeria

IJeoma L. Uche-Okeke, arts project manager and editor, Nigeria and South Africa
Mike van Graan, Afai director and playwright, South Africa

In Africa, an ongoing discourse takes place about African contemporary art. Artists, designers, gallery owners, curators and people of art organizations living on the African continent think of and deleberate on this theme and its dynamics. And, as should be in a discourse, on some points they reached agreement, others  points still give rise for further debate.

They do agree on what African contemporary art is not: it is not what is called the classic art from Africa, like wooden sculptures and masks. It is not about untrained artists with natural talent who have to stay uneducated. And it is not what the Western world wants it to be and defines it, nor should it be measured against the parameters that have been set by the West. As Joseph Gergels states: it should not be seen isolated or as a sideshow on the global art market.

There are also positive points of agreement. They all say that Africa is a huge and diverse continent, with big and profound differences between north and south and east and west, for there is a vast and rich diversity of cultures and cultural influences on the continent. They also do think that African artists should be able to work, live, educate and develop themeselves on the continent, without the need to have to go into the Diaspora in order to survive both economically and creatively as an artist. And, at last but not at least, that African contemporary art is still a niche in the global art world, while, according to Simon Njami, it is the missing link, the part that the world misses in order to complete the global art world.

This still doesn’t tell us what African contemporary art is. This question leads to different answers:

For Mike van Graan African contemporary art is diverse, and that’s what needs to be celebrated.
For IJeoma Uche-Okeke, it is art made by artists from the African continent, inspired by the rich cultures and traditions of the various regions, as well as by contemporary cultures on the continent and global trends.

For Valerie Kabov African and Marcus Gora, contemporary art can definetely be seen as a new dynamic energy, as an intellectual breath of fresh air. For them, it is something that people from all walks of life and all cultures respond to and be thrilled by. The best works of artists from Africa carry a potent change of belief, without being blind for the suffering, without forgetting history and celebrating them in their own rights. They also states that African artist can and should make which makes a lasting contribution to society.
It seems, there are so many true and exciting answers as there are artists. Therefore, as Malibongwe Tyilo feels, the conversation is still necessary as there are so many aspects of defying the indentity.

Where does that leave Clifton Boulder Gallery? For one thing, we will not even try to define African contemporary art, we can only say how we think and feel about it. As Joseph Gergel stated, it is important that African art can define itself in its own terms on the global stage, rather than being defined by the Western art institutions.

Clifton Boulder Gallery only can and wants to create a void, where this art can present and define itself and hope that everyone who views it, does feel it’s energy and the breath of fresh air.

We invite everyone to come, see and feel this at one of the upcoming fairs. Or contact us at this website. For, as Valerie Kabov says, art is a gift to a shared humanity. We are looking forward to share this with you.

South African Art Exhibition May 2016

South African Art Exhibition in Wassenaar

On 20 May, in the Wittenburg castle, the annual ambassador lunch took place. The lunch was organized by SANEC offerering Dutch entrepeneurs and ambassadors from countries of Southern Africa the chance to meet each other.

In the run of this lunch Gallery Patries van Dorst, located next to the castle, organized, at request of the Ambassador of South Africa, an exhibition of South African art, the South African Art Exhibition. Our Clifton Boulder Gallery participates in this exhibition with works of the artists Neo Matloga, Fortune Dlamini, Samson Mnisi, Themba Khumalo and Mongezi Ncaphayi.

On Sunday, May 1st was the opening of the exhibition, with great interest of an art-loving public. With a drink and South African snack (such as boerewors) one could enjoy the beauty of the art of this beautiful country. The exhibition was officially opened by the Ambassador of South Africa, Mr. Bruce Koloane. In front of the works of Fortune Dlamini he talked about the importance of art for his country and the importance for artists to exhibit their works in an exhibition like this.  He was pleased with the large number of works by black artists, because, in his opinion, it’s much more difficult for them to be part of the global art system than for white South Africans. The latter usually know the world better, have a greater cultural capital and a network which they can use. The present white artists agreed on this. And, continued the ambassador, for black people, who rarely have been outside their own country, the system is less well known and permeable. Therefore, Mr. Koloane was very pleased with the presence of  the artist Mongezi Ncaphayi at the opening and expressed his deep pride.

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Mr. Bruce Koloane opens the exhibition, accompanied
by five south African artists. Second from the right
Mongezi Ncaphayi (Photo. P. Sinnige)

Research into the place of African art in the global art market, such as the study of dr. Rhoda Woets in Ghana, has shown how difficult it is for African artist is to acquire a place in the global art world. Partly because African art does not appear to be part of the (western) history of art and partly because western people do not directly think of African art as vibrating contemporary art.

From personal experience we can say that the person facing this art  adapts his mind quickly and is overwhelmed by the beauty of it. Therefore, it is important for us to make you acquainted with this work full of expressiveness.

Take for example by Themba Khumalo work:

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In this work, entitled “I will remember and never forget” (2015), he honors the strength of South African mothers who -as the pylon- continues to stand tall in a violent world and who ensure their children they can fly out in the world, like the birds on the left. He has expressed this theme with a special printing technique, acquired during his studies at the Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg.

This work is sold during this exhibition. But Clifton Bouder Gallery is in possession of more beautiful work of South African artists and have contacts that allows us to find works for you that suits your wishes. We look forward to further contact.

Clifton Boulder Gallery continues, we experience every day the richness of life among beautiful art.

Art Fair Brussels February 2016

After a good start on the affordable Artfair (AAF) in Hamburg, Brussels is our next (AAF) exhibition. Once again, we are pleased with the progress we are making. Our experience at the previous fair (and visits to many fairs that inspired us) we have made some changes. Thus, we have clearly stated that the art in our stand is, as we put it, art from Africa. We also placed a nice desk by Brak furniture (http://brak-furniture.myshopify.com) and a bench of Pedersen and Lennard (https://pedersenlennard.co.za), both South African design, in our stand and had an extra panel placed, on which the art of Neo Matloga has been given a prominent place. Because of the outer wall we can show more art pieces.

Also in Brussels, the art-loving public does not disappoint us, many eyes have properly absorbed the works and many works of art has found its way to a Belgian home.

A work that many found fascinating was the work of Nigerian artist Uche Uzorka. Uche makes mind maps. He states, that when you’re in a strange city and trying to find your way, you start making mind maps. You walk, take the bus or bicycle and gradually connection points emerge in your head in the form of a folder. Now it is easier to get your way in this strange environment. The works that were on display in Brussels showed such maps of a digital world, in which each of us has to find a way. Bit by bit, creating a fascinating landscape, where you can wander wonderfully, without running the risk of getting lost.

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Light, Uche Uzorka, 2015.

We consider it a privilege to be allowed to display and sell these beautiful works of art during the fair. Of course, they are also for sale online. You don’t have to wait for the next Art Fair!

Clifton Boulder Gallery continues, we experience every day the richness of life among beautiful art.

Messe Hamburg november 2015