• 20 October 2023 - 12 November 2023
  • Main Gallery, Mezzanine Gallery

'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.


The title of the exhibition is derived in part from an isiZulu idiom that conjures a spirit of "in spite of everything”, and is also drawn from Tembeka Ngcokaitobi’s book, The Land is Ours; it speaks to the call to address the displacement of Black South Africans. Through his work, Sithole offers an emotional dive into the complexities of connecting with the land and by implication what is lost through denial of access to land.


Sithole was born in Soweto in 1971 in the height of apartheid to a seamstress and a renowned jazz musician and leader of the KwaZulu-Natal band, “The Drive”. Sithole was born a triplet, his sister, Ingrid died at age two and his father, Henry died when he was six. His remaining sister died in 2014. Zulu culture places a strong emphasis on honoring ancestors - with spiritual rituals facilitating connections and guidance in various aspects of life, from birth to death, and everything in between. The land, home not only to the living but also to the ancestors, is intricately woven into ritual, culture and existence.


For much of his career, Sithole has worked from the BAT Centre in Durban as one of the first artists in residence there, reaching international recognition for his unique approach to traditional ceramic practices. He received his postgraduate diploma in Glaze Technology cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2006, and he has exhibited in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and in China. Throughout his life, Sithole has handmade artifacts 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 a blend of urban sensibility and a deep-seated rural experience and longing. Sithole has integrated his knowledge of Southern African culture into a multifaceted, contemporary artistic practice. Cattle, both as figurative sculptures and as symbols of cultural identity and wealth, frequently reappear in his narrative and iconography. Sithole currently works from his studio in the courtyard of the Phansi Museum in Durban, where he also mentors younger artists and creatives. Sithole's sculptures, in their powerful representation of his identity and wealth through cattle, serve as poignant reflections on the historical and ongoing struggles related to land ownership and racial disparities in South Africa.


The legacy of the 1913 Native Land Act and the era of apartheid continue to shape South Africa's social and political landscape, where the question, "Ziphi Nkomo?" ("Where are the cattle, where is the Land?") still resonates. In contemporary South Africa, occupying space, whether it be a gallery or inherited or appropriated land, reflects the intricate socio-political landscape of the nation. The idea of claiming space holds historical significance in a country damaged by land dispossession and forced removals during apartheid. This history has left enduring scars on communities, and the painful struggle for land ownership and restitution remains a central issue.


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. These elements converge in a haunting beauty masterfully sculpted by Sithole to create a dynamic platform for dialogue and contemplation on the ongoing quests 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.

For more information, please contact:
KZNSA Gallery
Address: 166 Bulwer Rd, Glenwood, Durban, 4001, South Africa
Phone: +27 (0)31 277 1705
Email: gallery@kznsagallery.co.za
Website: www.kznsagallery.co.za

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