Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town is hosting an exhibition by remarkable South African artist Noria Mabasa. More than 70 years old, Mabasa is one of several ceramicists from the northern province of Venda, bordering on Zimbabwe. For the past thirty years, she has been producing figures and pots with clay sourced from a local river.
Unlike other female artists, Mabasa also carves sculptures out of wood. She produces monumental installations drawing on traditional themes and the status of women. Like many Venda artists, she takes inspiration from personal visions and dreams.
While highly regarded within South Africa, art from Venda has little international profile. It would be wonderful if we could rustle up a touring show of Venda artists. If not, perhaps a residency would do. They are up for it.
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And the review from Artthrob…
Working in wood has also allowed Mabasa to produce sculptures on a much more monumental scale than clay, amplifying her voice, and it is these works which are particularly successful for me. Mabasa’s affinity for the medium shows her carving following the natural trajectory suggested by the wood, to create some dynamic sculpture. Frank Ledimo, writing for the Sophie Perryer-edited 10 years, 100 Artists, suggests that Mabasa ‘colludes and negotiates’ with the wood (2004: 208). And indeed, she does seem to posess a sensitivity to wood, excusing its imperfections by taking advantage of knots, scars, and discolouration as features in her compositions.