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Helen Sebidi solo exhibition – Norval Foundation

1 September, 2018 - 24 January, 2019


Honouring the start of Heritage Month, Norval Foundation presents Batlhaping Ba Re! – a solo exhibition by Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi (born 1943, South Africa) featuring paintings, etching and a sculpture from a career spanning five decades. Launching on the 1stof September 2018 and running until the 24th of January 2019, the exhibition reflects on Sebidi’s continuous dedication to mythologies, ancestry and traditional value systems.

Sebidi’s proclamation that, “our education tells us that the first true gods are spirit animals” invites us to think through the spiritual meaning of animals, and the metaphor of animals in everyday life. Batlhaping Ba Re! – “the fish people say” – is a reference to Sebidi’s family spirit animal, the fish.

This exhibition asks viewers to think about the idea of animism – the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence – that Sebidi’s work often conjures. Thereby attempting to explore a number of themes, including different forms of personhood, the politicisation of land and its relation to conceptions of creation.

In the exhibition, Norval Foundation brings together major works by the artist, such as the three-panel altarpiece Who Are We and Where Are We Going (2004-08), with focus on Sebidi’s recurring practice of combining human and animal forms with spiritual significance. Also featured are the seminal Tears of Africa I (1987-88) – which, until recently, remained in the artist’s private collection since it was created and has been a source of continual inspiration – and Tears of Africa II (2016), made almost three decades later.

Through her unique depiction of the human figure, we come to appreciate Sebidi’s representation of different forms of black being, and a search into the relationship between humanism, spiritualism and the contemporary black African condition.

The Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression. We are dedicated to the research and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, the Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature.

Our innovative Sculpture Garden, outdoor amphitheatre, purpose-built exhibition spaces and research library are situated in a unique setting that offers visitors a multisensory experience. This is complemented by the Skotnes Restaurant and Bar, a bespoke shop and a children’s playground.

Batlhaping Ba Re! by Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi

1 September 2018 – 24 January 2019

Curated by Portia Malatjie

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