Southern Guild opens a tantalising trio of solo exhibitions

From ceramics with a spiritual aspect to timber that tells a tale, three solo exhibitions that run from 6 June in Cape Town will provide a feast for the artistic soul

By Your Luxury
King Houndekpinkou

Six Prayers by King Houndekpinkou

Australia, Benin, Hong-Kong, Japan, Morocco, Senegal, Spain, South Korea and USA, are just some of the countries where King Houndekpinkou has exhibited his distinctive ceramic sculptures. His latest work however will not only be showing in Cape Town, but was also produced over eight weeks while he participated in the GUILD Residency in Cape Town. Six Prayers fuses a variety of traditions with future possibilities to offer new myths to new gods, complete with their own ritualistic objects. King offers these six vessels as super realities in the same multiverse. Having learned the meditative art of wheel-thrown ceramics under master potter Toshiaki Shibuta in Bizen – one of the six ancient kilns of Japan known as the Roku Koyō – he infuses a deep spiritual intent into his process, creating vessel forms that he then stacks and clusters into sculptural totems in which function dissolves into dysfunction.


Madoda: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Madoda Fani

In part referencing its title from the artist’s first name, Madoda, which means ‘men’, this exhibition challenges hetero-normative narratives of the township Black man in South Africa. It maps urban Black masculinities in a thought-provoking way that deconstructs reductive cliches. By re-imagining and re-imaging ubiquitous domestic objects in clay, Madoda turns earthenware forms into statements. It’s also a gesture of gratitude for and recognition of the Black men who shaped him. These includes his grandfather, a butcher, who sold sheep heads roasted over open fire; his father, a full-time steelworker and part-time artist, fashioning sculptures in the backyard of his home; ceramicist elders like Simon Masilo, the Nala family and Nic Sithole and his uncle, cousins and brothers, who through acts of softness and care created versions of masculinity informed by their environment and in spite of it. With delicately detailed work, Madoda carved each line and indentation as an imprint of love for these men, and a challenge to society.


Like Something Almost Being Said by Adam Birch

Having worked as an aborist for more than two decades, it could be said that Adam speaks the language of trees. Innately familiar with the density of its timber, the undulating movement of its grain, the pliability of the wood beneath the coarse bark, he is able to identify a species on sight. This ability means the process of creating a sculpture often begins long before he’s even picked a chainsaw, or sketched a drawing or even touched the wood. This second solo exhibition that opens in June, features works that are hand-sculpted and crafted from locally felled trees. Forked seating is dominant in the imagery with the supple curves, hollows and prongs of each work coming into being without assemblage or joinery. Consequently, the bifurcated forms emerge at a critical point within the tree’s anatomy. While other arborists ordinarily discard this obstinate part of the tree’s form, Birch is enthralled by it. Spontaneously led by the tree’s grain, the shape is extracted, meticulously refined to accommodate one – or multiple – seated bodies. Birch’s artworks present a paradox: these forms appear simple, straightforward, singular in their material, immediately understood. Yet they’re of a metaphysical quality; they have been changed in essence into something of utility and function, imbued with a reinvigorated purpose that diverges from the essential quest of a tree: to simply be.


All three of these exhibitions will be on view at Southern Guild Cape Town from 06 June until 22 August 2024.

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