Abongile Sidzumo’s solo exhibition debuts at Absa Gallery

Absa L’Atelier 2021 Gerard Sekoto award winner Abongile Sidzumo’s solo exhibition debuts at Absa Gallery until 6 April 2023

In partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), Absa Gallery opened its doors on 9 February 2023 for the solo exhibition by Abongile Sidzumo, the 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto award winner. Sidzumo is showcasing his recently produced artworks themed “Amagoduka”, a concept of belonging and what he considers home. “Amagoduka’ is a term used for people who live in urban areas but are originally from rural locations.

The exhibition opened via a livestream on the Absa Art Hot Spot, a platform that delivers an engaging art experience, thus giving Abongile an opportunity to interact with his audience in a virtual space for focused dialogue, networking and insights-sharing. This is over and above showcasing his variety of original artwork in the Absa Gallery and highlights this physical exhibition in the virtual exhibition in the Absa Art Hot Spot.

Abongile’s practice is influenced by his life experience and the performance of everyday life in black communities. He uses discarded leather offcuts in his body of work and assembles them to create imaginary landscapes. The leather offcuts have been stitched together by thread, they explore ideas around migrant labour, land, and class. The act of repurposing leather offcuts draws influence from the livelihoods of the working class.

  • Abongile Sidzumo, 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner, at the opening of his solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery in Johannesburg. Artwork: (Left) The messenger, 2023. Leather and waxed braided thread on hessian, 1422 x 926 x 60mm; (Centre) Indlovu ayisindwa ngumboko wayo, 2023. Leather, waxed braided thread, leather dye and canvas, 1676 x 1201 x 49mm; (Right) Ububomvu, 2022. Leather, waxed braided thread and acrylic paint on canvas, 970 x 857 x 40mm.
  • Abongile Sidzumo, 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner, examines one of his artworks, Indlovu ayisindwa ngumboko wayo, in his solo exhibition in the Absa Gallery.
  • The city of love, Abongile Sidzumo, 2023. Leather , waxed braided thread and buttons, 1100 x 909 x 41mm.
  • Untitled, Abongile Sidzumo, 2023. Leather and waxed braided thread on canvas, 1040 x 856 x 46mm.

Cultural attaché and Deputy Director of the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), a lead sponsor of the Gerard Sekoto Award, Sophie Boulé, expressed, “This year will be exactly 20 years that we have supported the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award for the most promising South African artists. We believe in the power of this Award, which grants a talented young South African creative the exciting opportunity to expand their horizons with a 3-month artistic residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, gaining greater exposure as a result thereof.

Abongile brought his South African roots to a new city known for its culture and inspiration. As part of the Award, Abongile will embark on a touring exhibition across South Africa, providing an opportunity for exposure amongst art aficionados. Along with our partners, Absa and South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), we are proud to accompany Abongile and other South African artists in sharing their work both nationally and internationally.”

The work of Abongile deals with often overlooked suffering and violence experienced by black people. His work captures the feeling of being in certain spaces and how those spaces impact how people navigate life. The importance of having a place to visit and spending time with family and friends as a form of healing.

The sponsorship and exhibition are in line with Absa’s ethos of making possibilities come to life for visual artists and resonates with being a force for good in everything they do – using this as a launch pad for new works by the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto winner. Abongile’s solo showcase “Amagoduka” forms part of that commitment and is a culmination of both his work and the opportunities afforded to him for winning this prestigious award.

“Winning the Gerard Sekoto award has been the biggest highlight of my career. It has encouraged me to keep going and believe in my art practice. Umntu Ngumntu Ngabantu, a big thank you to Absa and everyone involved.” Sidzumo articulated with a Xhosa saying which means, “A person is a person through other people.”

  • Abongile Sidzumo, 2021 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award winner, with his artwork, Haunted landscape, in the Absa Gallery.
  • Dark cloud, Abongile Sidzumo, 2022. Leather and waxed braided thread, 1100 x 1130 x 44mm.
  • Ufihl' intloko (a place of refuge), Abongile Sidzumo, 2022. 	Leather and waxed braided thread on canvas, 714 x 652 x 42mm.

“The Absa L’Atelier has built a legacy, providing the next generation of young African artists with the support, recognition, and exposure they need to cement their burgeoning careers,” says Dr Paul Bayliss, Senior Specialist Art and Museum Curator at Absa Group. “The Absa L’Atelier has been running for 36 years now, and it is truly inspiring to see the talent of these young artists as Absa, with our partners, we are proud to be a part of the journey and will continue to showcase and invest in some of Africa’s finest young artists.”

Post the 3-month Paris residency, the Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto recipient is then afforded the opportunity of a travelling solo exhibition which opens in the Absa Gallery. Following its closure in the Absa Gallery on 6 April 2023, ‘Amagoduka will travel to Gqheberha from 2 May-2 June; Bloemfontein from 28 August-29 September; and Tshwane from 27 October-18 November 2023.

The Award won Sidzumo a three-month residency at Cité International des Arts, in Paris, France. Sidzumo has participated in numerous group exhibitions: The Oasis at Hallmark House (2021), A Prelude at BKhz Gallery and Slip Stream at Gallery-De-Move-On (2022), to name but a few!

Abongile Sidzumo – Behind The Scenes

Explore the exhibition at the Absa Art Hot Spot

Visit the exhibition live at the Absa Gallery, Jhb