African Galleries Now: Contemporary Sculpture

Artsy Fairs
Dec 8, 2020 6:14am
Sculpture is unequivocally something that many would think of first if asked about historical art from the continent. While the balance has shifted towards painting in contemporary art, artists working in 3D material practices consistently deliver surprising and powerful artworks. These works have an incredible capacity for creating conversations between tradition and modernity. They evince unique perspectives by tapping into the narrative properties of the many materials they use. Sculptors participating in African Galleries Now from Morocco to Mozambique, South Africa to Zimbabwe, Uganda to Namibia work in clay, stone, bronze, wood, nut shells, steel as well as chipboard and molten plastic to complicate and dispel any notion of homogeneity in what is or can be African.

Luis Santos

Mozambican, b. 1993. Arte de Gema (Mozambique)

In his sculptural works, Mozambiquan artist Luis Santos, melds the human figure with both organic and inorganic forms. Using wood, steel, straw, cement and zinc these works come together as collages in which Santos considers the relationship between people and nature, tradition and gender, spirituality and human origins. Santos is represented by Arte de Gema in Mozambique and held his first solo exhibition in 2019 at the Franco-Mozambican Cultural Center, titled “What the body has already forgotten”.

Lazi Mathebula

South African, b. 1989 Kalashnikov Gallery (Johannesburg)

Mother Ma
Lazi MathebulaMother Ma, 2020. Kalashnikovv Gallery
Lazi Mathebula held his first solo exhibition at Kalashnikov Gallery in Johannesburg in 2020, titled “Shadows of My Freedom”. After a long and successful career as an illustrator and designer Mathebula turned to steel sculpture in search of a medium that would be able to hold his careful line work as well as preserve his artistic vision. Mathebula’s recent works consist of a collection of larger-than-life figures, each one telling a story. These urban Johannesburg characters reflect Mathebula’s longstanding interest in contemporary South African society.

M’Barek Bouhchichi

Moroccan, b. 1975, Selma Feriani Gallery (Tunis)

M’Barek Bouchichi is an artist and educator who lives and works in Tahanaout, Morocco. Bouhchichi’s abstract artworks manifest in painting, drawing, weaving and sculpture, all of which relay a clear and consistent visual language. With a strong emphasis on form, Bouchichi explores the potential of connection between individual forms of expression and the broader, external, social and historical world.

Richard Atugonza

Ugandan, b. 1994, Afriart Gallery (Kampala)

Richard Atugonza graduated from Makerere University Kampala in 2019. His most recent sculptures consist of fragmented portraits made out of recycled plastic and charcoal. Cast from moulds taken directly from their subjects, these sculptures capture idiosyncratic postures and precise proportions. Atugonza’s materials are manipulated through combustion and in their use the artist melds his subjects with their environments.

Julio Rizhi

Zimbabwean, b. 1991, First Floor Gallery (Harare)

Julio Rizhi lives in Harare, working and developing his practice in the Chinembiri studios alongside some of Zimbabwe’s most notable contemporary artists. Rizhi’s colourful and sculptural works consist of coloured molten plastics merged with wire mesh and coloured with spray paint. Rizhi’s works appear sensual in their overflowing physicality and through them the artist responds to the urban environment of Harare. In this way Rizhi draws attention to environmental degradation and the consequences of over consumption.

Ismael Shivute

Namibian, b. 1988, StArt Art Gallery (Windhoek)
Artwork: Harmony, 2020
Soapstone and reclaimed metal
31 1/2 × 11 4/5 × 13 2/5 in
80 × 30 × 34 cm
Ismael Shivute was born, and grew up in rural Northern Namibia and moved to Windhoek to pursue his studies in sculpture. In 2016 Shivute held his first solo exhibition “Day-To-Day” at the National Art Gallery of Namibia. In his recent works Shivute combines soapstone with reclaimed metal, drawing from the urban environment of Windhoek and its surrounds. The artist takes a philosophical and meditative approach to his work saying that the soapstone suggests its ideal form to him in the process of making.
Sandile Radebe
South African, b. 1978, Guns & Rain Gallery (Johannesburg)
Artwork: Isiqhaza saseGiyane, 2020
Spray paint on Pine wood
24 4/5 × 23 3/5 × 3 7/10 in
63 × 60 × 9.5 cm
Sandile Radebe is based at the Bag Factory studios in Johannesburg. He is well known for his many public artworks. Radebe’s bold, colourful relief sculptures are inspired by specific artistic motifs that reflect his interest in Zulu knowledge systems, communication and language. Radebe describes his work as an exploration of “who we are and what identifies us, particularly as amaZulu and as human beings.”

Ismael Shivute

Namibian, b. 1988, StArt Art Gallery (Windhoek)

Ismael Shivute was born, and grew up in rural Northern Namibia and moved to Windhoek to pursue his studies in sculpture. In 2016 Shivute held his first solo exhibition “Day-To-Day” at the National Art Gallery of Namibia. In his recent works Shivute combines soapstone with reclaimed metal, drawing from the urban environment of Windhoek and its surrounds. The artist takes a philosophical and meditative approach to his work saying that the soapstone suggests its ideal form to him in the process of making.

Sandile Radebe

South African, b. 1978, Guns & Rain Gallery (Johannesburg)


Sandile Radebe is based at the Bag Factory studios in Johannesburg. He is well known for his many public artworks. Radebe’s bold, colourful relief sculptures are inspired by specific artistic motifs that reflect his interest in Zulu knowledge systems, communication and language. Radebe describes his work as an exploration of “who we are and what identifies us, particularly as amaZulu and as human beings.”