Showcasing a new generation of contemporary African artists

Victory Trance (The devil is a liar), 2019, by Malebona Maphutse. Mixed media on un-stretched canvas 59.5cm x 83.5cm.

Made possible by Distell, and curated by Ghanian artist and writer, Bernard Akoi-Jackson, the On The Cusp exhibition of young, up-and-coming contemporary African artists, forming part of the upcoming Stellenbosch Triennale, will be open for viewing from Tuesday February 11 to Thursday April 30. 

The exhibition will be staged in one of Distell’s heritage properties, Libertas Parva (also known as Little Libertas) located at 25-33 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. 

Conceptually, On The Cusp references the idea of the accumulated potential that an individual or generation possesses at a crucial interval of time – just before the onset of something great. The exhibition is one of Stellenbosch Triennale’s identifying exhibitions – a core part of the programme, initiated by chief curator, Khanyisile Mbongwa.

She says: “On The Cusp takes into account future possibilities by engaging with new artists set to innovate in the African scene to come, as well as on the world stage. The exhibition follows the ethos of the Stellenbosch Triennale, as it ventures beyond the confines of the traditional, exposing fresh practices – aesthetic, conceptual, critical and/or material.” 

Mr Akoi-Jackson has, upon the advice of a network of colleague practitioners across the continent, selected 10 African artists/collectives across a spectrum of techniques, methods and mediums and a host of genres. They are: 

Aaron Samuel Mulenga (Zambia)

Agnes Waruguru (Kenya)

Asafo Black Artist Collective (Ghana)

Canon Rumanzi (Uganda)

Indira Mateta (Angola)

Lazaro Samuel (Tanzania)

Malebona Maphutse (South Africa)

Nelly Guambe (Mozambique)

Simnikiwe Buhlungu (South Africa)

Valerie Fab-Uche (Nigeria) 

“For On The Cusp, it has been important to borrow from the ethics of blaxTARLINES KUMASI and take cognisance of realities in economics and politics; the human society in general and how these then work in ways that have impact beyond the human experience,” Mr Akoi-Jackson says.

“The exhibition adopts a strategy of deliberately mixing up stuff, being indifferent to any particular medium, material or genre as representative of the highest form of art practice. All media are considered as equally important, so long as the artists are respectful of them and dedicated to pursuing their choices. 

“These young artists, and emerging voices, are very much into the Instagram culture, very much into the larger social media culture – but at the same time they may have to deal with old and protracted issues. So we approach those with a new urge. Old issues are not going away but the young people shouldn’t be burdened with them. They have their own burdens, their own agency. They are bearing contemporary burdens. And we experience this in On The Cusp.” 

Distell is proud to be involved as sponsor, says Bridgitte Backman, head of Distell’s corporate affairs department.

“For Distell, supporting arts and culture is viewed as an investment in our future, recognising how much our cultural life contributes to the health of our communities across the nation and, indeed, around the world. It showcases the rich global diversity of people and we believe in it as a deeply unifying force,” she says. 

“On The Cusp is about revealing and unravelling the creative talents of tomorrow. Focused on emerging artists who have pushed their creative boundaries and arrive and sit on the cusp of beauty and magic through their work, it reflects Distell’s drive and ambition to be an African Champion, a dynamic business that appeals to a broad spectrum of Africans.” 

The Stellenbosch Triennale takes place from Tuesday February 11 to Thursday April 30, in venues across Stellenbosch. 

Visit www.stellenboschtriennale.com for more information.