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7 must-see Exhibitions opening this month

A round up of SA’s top artistic showcases, from playful observations to thought-provoking commentary, these exhibitions unravel the nuanced – and often painful – layers of our nation’s past and present

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By House & Garden South Africa | February 8, 2022 | Art

Text by Afrika Bogatsu

If you, like us, believe art should be viewed and enjoyed every day and not just on the first Thursday of every month with overwhelming crowds of vibe seekers mostly interested in the free wine, here are a few must-see exhibitions worth visiting in your own time, without any danger of distraction.


Agoodjie by Nandipha Mntambo


2 – 28 February

In this exhibition, Nandipha Mntambo explores lines between myth and reality as she tells the story of the Agoodjie, aka the Dahomey Amazons, an all-female army of the Kingdom of Dahomey, (now the Republic of Benin), founded by Queen Hangbe. Mntambo’s work focuses on themes of metamorphoses, memory, life and death and the true- and no different. ‘Through the act of recreating the attire worn by the Agoodjie, travelling to Benin Republic, and more specifically to the Royal Palaces of Abomey, engaging with both modern-day historians and custodians of this history, my intention was to excavate a portion of the past,’ says MnTambo. Her interpretation of the story of the Agoodjie is a creation of fiction based on a complex history, much like that of Marvel’s Dora Milaje.

Shooting Down Babylon by Tracey Rose

Shooting Down Babylon by Tracey Rose


17 Feb - 28 Aug

‘Shooting Down Babylon’ will be Tracey Rose’s largest comprehensive retrospective of her more than 20-year-long career as one of South Africa’s most radical artists. Initially set to open in 2020, but delayed due to Covid-19, the exhibition is one of diverse materials and mediums, from photography, sculpture and painting to performance art and immersive video installations. This body of work looks at post-apartheid legacies and liberation movements, through the use of her body, as a site for protest, outrage, resistance and pertinent discourse. Rose’s work explores and interrogates themes of gender, race, sexuality, identity, spirituality and healing.

Gladys Mgudlandlu, Gugulethu (1963), at When Rain Clouds Gather_ Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000

When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000


9 Feb 2022 – 9 Jan 2023

‘When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000’ reflects and celebrates the influential and uncredited intellectual and creative contributions of Black women to South African art history in the twentieth century. Curated by Portia Malatjie and Nontobeko Ntombela, the exhibition is a collection of over 120 works from early Modernism to the contemporary period, and is a cross-generational communion of 40 Black women artists and a celebration of their aesthetic ingenuity.

Disrupt II by Emma Willemse

Disrupt II by Emma Willemse

@SpierWineFarm | Until 22 April 2022

After 2018 a stint at the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London, Emma Willemse’s Disrupt II exhibit is back on home soil and has found a new home at Spier. Willemse, a conceptual artist and art educator, explores themes of displacement, place-making and sense of place. Her artworks are technically varied, and include sculptural installations, printmaking, books, painting and drawing. The installation includes a selection of pieces from Willemse’s series ‘101 Ways To Long For A Home’, a collection of 101 handmade artist books, constructed from discarded parquet floor blocks sourced from old demolished homes and buildings in the gentrified neighbourhood of Woodstock. Her work seeks to subvert the traditional notion of linear word-based storytelling, while using a fragmented visual language and relying on the multi-layered meanings of found material. ‘Disrupt II’ is an interactive exhibition, inviting visitors to flip through each of the pages to discover whole worlds in between each book’s cover and see how the story of disruption unfolds.

Githan Coopoo, Tomorrow Is My Personal Public Holiday, at 3D IN 22_ South African Contemporary Sculpture


3D IN 22: South African Contemporary Sculpture


29 Jan – 22 Mar

Having built a 20-year reputation for championing South African contemporary sculpture, commissioning of monumental works, and exhibiting the top South African sculptors both locally and internationally – Everard Read has established itself as a destination for collectors of three-dimensional works of art. To celebrate the new year, Everard Read has filled its landmark CIRCA gallery with a selection of the finest sculpture and three-dimensional works of art by South Africa’s vanguard of contemporary artists.

She Could Talk A Flood Tide Down by Yto Barrada

She could talk a flood tide down by Yto Barrada


29 Jan – 17 Mar

Yto Barrada is a Moroccan-French artist recognized for her multidisciplinary investigations of cultural phenomena and historical narratives. Her work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, MoMA, The Met and the 2007 and 2011 Venice Biennales. Through her exhibition, ‘She Could Talk a Flood Tide Down’, Barrada engages different aspects of language and play – and through humour allows for deeper reflection and a closer reading of objects, materials and processes.

Ebhish' by Luvuyo Nyawose


Ebhish' by Luvuyo Nyawose


21 Jan 2022 – 27 Feb 2022

Through his multimedia work, eBhish’, Luvuyo Nyawose takes an in-depth look at the history of ibhish’ laseThekwini, critiquing the absence of black people in visual archives largely populated by historical photographs of white beachgoers while unpacking systemic enactments, allowing us to understand the past that has not passed, but persists in the present. The relationship between black people and the beach has and continues to be characterised by discrimination and segregation, Nyawose hopes to foreground the multiplicity and fluidity of black oceanic presence and black subjectivity, as well as the interrelated meanings of water and the sea as spiritual, by literally taking to the water, joining beachgoers in the act of swimming for a more fluid photography process.