top of page

Art Basel Hong Kong | 2024


Fair Portfolio

Art Basel Hong Kong | 2024


28.03.24 - 30.03.24



Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC)
Hong Kong, China

For the Gallery Sector of Art Basel Hong Kong 2024, SMAC Gallery is pleased to present a curated group presentation by three artists who explore the limits and potential of materiality and contemporary abstraction in Southern Africa. The booth includes new straw tapestries by Simphiwe Buthelezi (b. 1996, Benoni, South Africa); ink and acrylic on relief wood carvings by Bonolo Kavula (b. 1992 Kimberley, South Africa) and wall-based, cardboard works by Wallen Mapondera (b. 1985, Harare, Zimbabwe).


“I am always cognisant of the sacredness that the reed mat holds to the indigenous populace in different parts of the world. I am also fascinated by how a single object can unravel and become a myriad of different forms. Just like the people to whom this artefact belongs, it is limitless, boundless, free to take any shape, enduring the pressure applied to it.”

Simphiwe Buthelezi is an installation artist and sculptor, who utilises traditional Zulu ‘icansi’ (hand-woven reed mats), glass beads and ‘tankrali’ (Zulu seed beads) to engage with the existential undertaking of “ukubuyela e masisweni” or “returning to the source”. Reed mats, leather, beads, metal compounds and cotton canvas are endlessly reworked, reconsidered and reshaped through her meticulous craftsmanship and the repetitive processes of cutting, folding, sewing and bonding. While the established conceptual threads of Buthelezi’s oeuvre begins in cultural dynamics and African Spirituality, her practice is grounded in a relentless exploration of materiality and form. For Buthelezi, these multifaceted, intergenerational objects are a continuation of what came before, and her practice of mending, reshaping and nurturing ‘icansi’ & ‘tankrali’ acts as not only a practical exploration but also a spiritual interrogation of material and form. Here, thinking & making are entangled activities, a combination of Buthelezi’s understanding of materiality, underpinned by her sensitivity to the traditional roles and practices that have informed her art-making.

Born in 1996 in Benoni, South Africa, Buthelezi received her National Diploma in Fine Art at the University of Johannesburg in 2017, after which she was awarded the 2018 Blessing Ngobeni Art Prize, culminating in a residency at The Bag Factory Artist Studios in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2023, Buthelezi presented her first European exhibition titled Izinyathelo zabagcotshiweyo (Footsteps of the Ordained) in the Galeries Émergentes sector, at Paris+ par Art Basel at the Grand Palais Éphémère, in Paris, France. She also presented Imvuselelo Yenkululeko (The World is Changing) as part of the Solo Section at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa in the same year. Buthelezi’s other solo presentations include: Imvuselelo Yenkululeko / Freedom’s Domain at SMAC in Stellenbosch, South Africa in 2020 and Lala La, curated by Chumisa Ndakisa, at The Bag Factory Studios in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2019. Selected collections comprise of: Fondation H in Antananarivo, Madagascar; University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa; Southern African Fellowship for Contemporary Art and the Bonanate Collection in Turin, Italy. In the second half of 2024, Buthelezi will participate in the SAFFCA Residency in partnership with ENSAV La Cambre, in Belgium, Brussels.


“These ideas existed before I even articulated them, they are my inheritance.”

Bonolo Kavula explores the language of printmaking beyond its traditional confines through her use of thread and punched Shweshwe fabric which is deeply rooted in Kavula’s memory of her own family, as well as in Southern Africa’s wider history. Combining print, design, painting and sculpture, she creates fabric tapestries and relief wood carvings which, though formalist in nature, speak back to our shared histories. Through exercises of abstraction, Kavula makes a language which expresses her strategic and symbolic approach to materiality. Her process is one of excessive repetition, each dot with its own landscape of minutiae, telling of the meditative action of labour, and of the creation of new meaning through deconstruction and transformation. Kavula’s work is minimalistic yet complex, known for its formalism as well as its ability to incite discourse around ancestry and identity.

In 2022, Kavula presented her first solo museum exhibition titled Lewatle at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, where she was the recipient of the inaugural Norval Sovereign African Art Prize.

Born in 1992 in Kimberley, South Africa, Kavula obtained a BA(FA) from the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2014, majoring in Printmaking. Kavula received the 2014 Katrine Harries Print Cabinet Award at the University of Cape Town, and she was a founding member of the Cape Town based artist collective, iQhiya. In 2022, Kavula presented her first solo museum exhibition titled Lewatle at the Norval Foundation, as well as a solo exhibition titled Soft Landing at SMAC Gallery, both in Cape Town, South Africa. Other solo presentations include: Moya, in the Generations Section, in conversation with Esther Mahlangu, at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair at the CTICC in Cape Town, South Africa in 2024; Lebala as part of the Statement Section at Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland in 2023; a re kopane ko thabeng as part of the Positions Sector at Art Basel Miami Beach in Miami, USA and sewedi sewedi at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa, both in 2021. Most recently her work was included in Africa Supernova: The Collection of Carla & Pieter Schulting, presented at Kunsthal KAdE in Amersfoort, The Netherlands, which was accompanied by a publication with the same title.

Her works are included in the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) Collection in Miami, USA; the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, USA; and the Iziko South African National Gallery Collection in Cape Town, South Africa. In late 2023, Kavula participated in an artist-in-residence programme at Fondation CAB, in Brussels, Belgium.


“I am interested in giving lasting life to decaying things, those that are seen as temporary. In my case, I mostly use cardboard, which is very fragile and does not have a long lifespan. I tear, twist, glue, remove or add layers and laminate to create a unique outcome, which obviously increases its lifespan. Before I start a piece, I have an idea and a vision of the end product, although most often the piece takes another direction as it evolves. Some ideas grow slowly and some appear vividly and clearly.”

Wallen Mapondera is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates work through painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. He is best known for his richly tessellated abstract wall sculptures, formed from complex configurations of textiles, cardboard and other everyday ephemera. Mapondera sees his materials as a continuation of what came before, and his use of mending, reshaping and nurturing acts as a survival tactic; a symbolic gesture of the gradual rebuilding taking place in his country and in his personal life.

Mapondera’s ability to revive objects that have been cast away echoes the spirit of the Arte Povera movement, and African artists such as El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama and Nnenna Okore, who have transformed their strong modernist influences into an investigation into contemporary African discourse. These works challenge the linearity of time and history, transfiguring ordinary materials into textured visual puzzles.

Born in 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe, Mapondera was formally trained at Zimbabwe National Gallery’s School of Visual Arts and Design, after which he completed his Masters Degree in Fine Art at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa. In 2022, Mapondera represented Zimbabwe at the 59th Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy, where his work was included in the exhibition entitled, “I Did Not Leave a Sign?” as part of the national pavilion.In 2023, Mapondera presented a solo booth in the Discoveries Section at Art Basel: Hong Kong with SMAC Gallery. Solo presentations include: Chirema Chine Mazano Chinotamba Chakazendama Madziro (Part Three), at Art Basel OVR: Miami Beach in Miami, USA and Chirema Chine Mazano Chinotamba Chakazendama Madziro (Part Two) at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, both in 2020; Moving Target at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town in 2019; and a solo presentation at Atelier Mondial in Basel, Switzerland in 2018. Notable group exhibitions include: between borders: migration, power and boundless imagination at Museum Arnhem in Arnhem, The Netherlands in 2023; Fragments at Museum der Kulturen Basel in Basel, Switzerland in 2022; Materiality at the Iziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa in 2020 and Five Bhohb: Painting at the End of an Era at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018.

bottom of page