top of page

Investec Cape Town Art Fair | 2024 | Generations

BONOLO KAVULA

Fair Portfolio

Investec Cape Town Art Fair | 2024 | Generations

BONOLO KAVULA

16.02.24 - 18.02.24

GENERATIONS

BOOTH G6

Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC)
Cape Town, South Africa

Sewedi, Sewedi
A re kopane ko thabeng,
Lewatle,
Lebala,


Moya.

“These ideas existed before I even articulated them,” Bonolo Kavula says, describing the essence of her artwork, “they are my inheritance,” she emphasises, remembering how receiving her mother’s dress of red Shweshwe from her grandmother reignited her connection to materiality and symbology in artmaking, as well as the power and presence of printmaking in her life and the cultures of Black women in South Africa. That intergenerational, nonlinear connection, and gift, created a site of convergence that defied the constraints of its origin, and stayed with the artist, to guide and encourage her.

With her latest solo booth titled Moya, Kavula pushes her symbolic practice even further, reaching back into the unseen and unmade to challenge her creative output against its inherent corporeality while she works to close the distance between herself and her unknown. Connecting herself in the present tense to her family both here and gone. Each punched canvas and their placement and colouring an offering of time, care and life’s force. Each sculpture, each experiment, each idea’s refinement a testament to sacrifice, and a show of not only meticulous technique, but of the sheer power of her will.

Kavula understands that ancestral divination takes time. This innate knowing has revealed itself through the ever-deepening relationship with the artist’s detailed process over the course of her success. A moment of acknowledgement informs Moya. After the passing of her grandfather, Kavula titled her first solo show with SMAC Gallery in 2021, Sewedi Sewedi, in honour of his life. In retrospect, the artist recognises that her subsequent offerings focused on her family, heritage, lineage and language, especially when conceptualising the titling of her presentations along with the naming of her works. Slowly, a poem rises to the surface out of the succession of exhibition names since. An instruction is formed, clear and coherent:
Family,
let us meet at the mountain,
by the ocean,
on the grounds of our homestead
and in spirit.

“My past, present and future self meet at my studio,” Kavula describes her process of conceptualising Moya, where a great deal of the collection relates itself back to Sewedi, Sewedi. Keeping her tradition of pushing the limitations of painting, printmaking, design, drawing and sculpture, Kavula broadens the space which her art occupies in the intersections between. “I’ve worked to make my contribution to GENERATIONS a matter of celebrating consistency of visual vocabulary, quality and artistic conviction,” the artist adds, “I’m making work next to the Esther Mahlangu, and I’m doing so with great respect to her practice. I’m honouring her and her legacy as well as me and mine.”

While creating Lewatle, Kavula spoke to Lindokuhle Nkosi, the cultural critic recalling the artist “[insisting] that her work is not autobiographical, but [that] she names it for people she loves. She speaks to them. Lesego. I’ve been needing you. Mothusi. Love will find you. She creates delicate veils of possibility, puzzling her family back from obliteration. This gesture is more than mnemonic. It is transformational.” The conversation between them pronounces the concept of Family Constellations, or Systemic Constellations, a therapeutic practice which functions on the belief that “present-day difficulties may be influenced by traumas suffered in previous generations of the family, even if those impacted have no knowledge of the preceding trauma.”

Moya becomes an acknowledgement of another barrier falling away between the artist and her ancestry, through the tireless dedication she’s shown to her kin in her craft. In being entrusted as a vessel for their divination, Kavula makes a language of her strategic and symbolic approach to materiality. Combined with her affinity with textiles and their cultural relevance in South Africa’s history, Kavula presents evidence of a keen sense of tactility and presence. An important story is being told through the artist —through her body, through her blood and its memory, through the vastness of her spirit— which continues to make and hold room for the next dimension of her narrative.

Where words often fail, or where vital familial records (and cultures, histories, stories) are lost, stolen, or destroyed, it makes sense that new forms of communication emerge. By the grace of Kavula’s deft hand, we are connected not only to who and what is no longer physically with us, but are also reminded that connection remains possible. Through her work we are shown new ways to remember, identify, archive and celebrate who we are and where we come from.

TEXT BY

Misha Krynauw

SMAC
bottom of page