University of Pretoria Museums
Temporary Annual Principal’s Exhibition - Rectorate
Location: Principal’s foyer, Administration Building and Old Arts Building Foyer- Hatfield Campus
Curators: Gerard de Kamper & Lelani Nicolaisen
Exhibition title: Corporeal Bodies
Collection: University of Pretoria Art Collection
Duration: February to December 2022
Curatorial Statement: Lelani Nicolaisen
“Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it's caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But, because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself.”
Maurice Merleau-Ponty – Eye and Mind (1961:3)
The human body has appeared in art throughout the ages, from the earliest cave paintings, performance art, to recently the digital realm of art. In the exhibition titled, Corporeal Bodies, the UP Museum curators explore the phenomenon of the human body as a corporeal entity. The idea of the corporeal body is explored and translated to having a physical material body comprised of flesh and bones. This corporeal body provides the opportunity for the artwork and subject matter of the body to exist within both time and space. The body is accordingly not static, for it breathes, it moves, and it lives.
Individual’s, as well as the interaction of people as depicted by the artists of the selected works for the exhibition, creates interesting narratives of a timeline within over 100 years, with the oldest work on exhibition by Max Liebermann (1847-1935), a lithograph titled, Equestrian dating to 1915. Corporeal Bodies captures the body in art depicted through different cultures as well as different mediums and styles, and accordingly, they are caught in different moments within history as well as in contemporary art. The body creates a dialogue with the audience, as one is drawn to the different cultures, moods, and vibes of the body in selected works from the museum art collection of the University of Pretoria.
The body makes us as humans constantly aware of our surroundings and how we perceive and live within space and time. The chosen artworks in the exhibition explore the corporeal body in various positions. Bodies are occupied in different activities such as collecting firewood in the work, Men with the firewood by Helen Sebidi, or a mother sitting with her child as in, Mother and child by Maggie Laubser or the bodies representing communities such as an entire village scene with activities as depicted in, Ndebele Village by Sam Nhlengethwa. South African, African and international artists showcased in this exhibition depict the body through various mediums, including painting, sculpture and textile art. The intention of the Corporeal Bodies exhibition, curated by the University of Pretoria Museums creates awareness of the human body in its finite-state and showcases nearly 30 artworks from the intsitution’s collections.
Artists represented in this exhibition
Zubenathi Ayanda Filana, Michael Teffo, Maggie Laubser, Helen Sebidi, Amita Makan, Sam Nhlengethwa, Erich Mayer, Hanneke Benade, Senthso Paul Ramagaga, Jeanne Bieruma-Oosting, George Grosz, Barbara Tyrrell, Lucky Sibiya, Gwenda Morgan, Cor Noltee, Joachim Voigts, Armando Baldinelli, Max Liebermann, Monique Day-Wilde, Elizabeth Rautenbach, Maud Sumner, Piet van Heerden, Marthinus Reus, Christo Coetzee, Walter Battiss, Osiah Masekoameng, Edoardo Villa, Ike Nkoana, Mashifane Makunyane & Stanley Pinker.
University of Pretoria Museums
Temporary Corobrik Exhibition - Old Arts Building
Location: Old Arts Building - Hatfield Campus
Curators: Lelani Nicolaisen & Gerard de Kamper
Exhibition title: Unspoken
Collection: Corobrik Ceramics collection
The exhibition, Unspoken showcases signature South African ceramics from the Corobrik Collection. This long-term rotational loaned exhibition by the University of Pretoria (UP) Museums is held in partnership with Corobrik, Ceramics Southern Africa (SA) and the City of Tshwane’s Pretoria Art Museum (PAM).
The exhibition explores the theme of the unspoken. In the past, ceramics were considered predominantly only as a medium and have been considered an iconic art form on the African continent. Over time, ceramics as an art form has significantly fledged, moving from the indigenous and traditional into the poignant sphere of contemporary art. The works in this exhibition are not only bridging the gaps between ceramics and time as the gallery is located within other galleries dedicated to ceramics. The exhibition mainly seeks to examine the unspoken narratives within the iconic Corobrik Collection. In this exhibition, while all the ceramicists are acknowledged by name, for now, a select few are highlighted such as Esias Bosch (1923-2010); Jerice Doeg (b. 1935), Henriette Ngako (b.1943); Nic Sithole (b. 1964)and Madoda Fani (b.1975). Over 230 ceramics are on display, and the selected ceramicists will be changed each year, to explore their unspoken biographies. Such artists remain foundational change-makers of both the past and present and the contributions they made and continue to make for South African ceramics is recognised. They have been selected to examine how, and why their art is influenced by both personal journeys, the artistic profession and the role ceramics play within contemporary art.
Over time, the exhibition will rotate selected artists annually to feature in Unspoken. This is more than just an exhibition of some of the best South Africa seminal ceramics. It serves as a provocation to open discussions and questions about how ceramics are currently viewed and interpreted by a diversity of audiences. How the artists view their art and vice versa how emerging art students understand, appreciate, deliberate, and enjoy the ceramics on display. How does one see ceramic art through the context of the artist and is ceramic art in the eye of the beholder?In addition, how the tradition of ceramic-making from African precolonial was carried and passed on as an unspoken tradition from one generation to the next.
The possibility of the materiality of ceramics as a conceptual medium can both be rewarding and endless. Africa has over a millennium of the tradition of ceramic making, yet as a medium, it remains current in the 21st century an inherited and ongoing tradition. Conceptualising, then producing the final ceramic contributes further to the significance and more mindfulness of discussions intended by the artist. Ceramics as a medium of creativity allows for artists to speak of heritage, politics, religion as on many occasions ceramic art is a form of social commentary. Unspoken aims to remove the former boundaries between ceramics as a craft and fine art. Artists utilise ceramics to explore everyday issues, moments, and emotions through their art and to express who they are and their origins. Works are presented as both functional, symbolic, sculptural pieces or merely creative ceramic forms. The exhibition creates the opportunity for the viewer to delve into the many unspoken conversations of the diversity of artists and the ever-expanding Corobrik Collection and its valuable contributions in preserving and growing SA’s most iconic ceramic collections funded by a corporate.
Corobrik was founded in 1902, but have become a market leader and major South African manufacturer of clay bricks, masonry, pavers, and concrete earth retaining systems. They produce more than 5 million products each day and have a footprint in every major city throughout South Africa. In 1982, Corobrik assumed sponsorship of Ceramics SA which began as the Association of Potters of Southern Africa who began this iconic ceramic collection in 1977. The earliest winning ceramics from National Exhibitions founded this collection and began with only three items which included: a porcelain bowl and a clay sculpture. Since then, Ceramics SA contributes ongoing to the Corobrik collection from award-winning ceramics from regional and national exhibitions.
This prestigious local ceramic art collection has been formerly housed at Tatham Gallery in 1996 to the Sandton Art Gallery until 2001 when it relocated to the Pretoria Art Museum, where the collection is currently catalogued and housed. The University of Pretoria signed a long-term loan agreement with Corobrik in 2020 and a Memorandum of Understanding with PAM in 2021 regarding the Unspoken exhibition. This brings nearly the entire Corobrik Collection, comprising of 276 works onto post pandemic public display within a single classic gallery in the Old Arts Building on the Hatfield campus of the University of Pretoria.
The Corobrik Collection represents individual artists, the development of studio ceramics from the work of rural traditional potters to contemporary artists of South Africa over the past four decades. Some artists must be inspired by generations of ceramic making as a tradition, where skills were passed on from one generation to the next. The making of vessels, beer pots, cooking pots, whether as functional household items or symbolic works have been an ongoing indigenous art form tradition in South Africa and perhaps is even at risk today of becoming a lost tradition. These early skills may have inspired later generation artists to use that which may have been inherited, to inspire and be creative in the construction of contemporary ceramics. For example, the world-renowned South African Zulu artist, Nesta Nala (1940-2005) has passed her ceramic making skills onto her three daughters who are now also ceramic artists, including the Mamelodi-based artist such as Nic Sithole (b.1964) who learnt the art of ceramic making from his maternal grandmother. Ceramics as a medium can accordingly transition seamlessly from the past into the present through the histories of its makers and that which is unspoken. In this exhibition, works in the Corobrik Collection are paired into collectives to deliberately create conversations, explore shared histories, tensions and their contemporary functions and meaning, allowing for more nuanced perspectives in the world of ceramics.