Azibuyele Emasisweni: Return to the Source

THE MELROSE GALLERY

Azibuyele Emasisweni is the first solo exhibition of the renowned artist and sangoma Pitika Ntuli to comprise solely of works sculpted from bone. Pitika uses bones to ‘divine the state of the nation in a season of anomie’.   

These sculptures took Pitika three years to create. Azibuyele Emasisweni doesn’t only lead the viewer back in time but through a unique and original use of material, form and symbolism.  

Initially conceptualised featuring 45 sculptures created by Pitika, it was decided in the context of Covid-19 to present this exhibition embracing new formats and modes of presentation.  Pitika wrote and recorded 45 praise songs, one for each sculpture to present these as audio notes to accompany the images. He also gathered a circle of 33 thought and creative leaders to engage with him around the exhibition, the artworks, African spirituality, indigenous knowledge systems and healing. 

The high profile list of collaborators includes the Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Homi K. Bhabha, Don Mattera, the Deputy Minister of Education Buti Manamela, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Shaheen Merali, Gcina Mhlophe, Sibongile Khumalo, Zolani Mahola, Ela Gandhi, Simphiwe Dana, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Kwesi Owusu, Eugene Skeef, Ahmed Rajab, Napo Masheane, Nalini Moodley, Antoinette Ntuli, Albie Sachs, Florence Masebe, Shado Twala, Ruzy  Rusike, Juwon Ogungbe, Felix Kobina Venter, Ari Sitas, Lallitha Jawahirilal, Sope Maitufi, Bheki Gumede, Sandile Ngidi and Nduduzo Makhathini. 

Azibuyele Emasisweni leads the viewer to reflect on South Africa’s current spiritual landscape through a unique and original use of material, form and symbolism. Individual works create a link between the ancient indigenous and spiritual knowledge systems of Africa, the perceptions of colonising powers, and South Africa’s current state of the nation. 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Pitika Ntuli was born in 1940 in Springs and grew up in Witbank in Mpumalanga, South Africa. During the Apartheid era, Ntuli was arrested and made a political prisoner until 1978, when international pressure forced his release. He embarked on a prodigious career in exile. Since completing a Master of Fine Art at Pratt Institute in New York and an MA at Brunel University in London in 1985, he has lectured art at various international and South African universities including; Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Wits University. He is primarily a sculptor. His stark skeletal structures are created in different mediums including metal, wood, stone and bone and range from small to monumental works in granite that weigh in excess of 19 tonnes. He has held numerous solo exhibitions and participated in a myriad of group exhibitions, mostly in London. His works are held in numerous important public, private and corporate collections.