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Arte Povera and South African Art: In Conversation

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

The Consulate General of Italy in Johannesburg cordially invite you to the opening of

Arte Povera and South African Art: In Conversation

Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg from 31 October to 9 December 2023

Arte Povera and South African Art: In Conversation is an exhibition project conceived by the Consulate General of Italy in Johannesburg to develop further the bridges between Italy and South Africa. It stimulates an intercultural dialogue and an exchange of experiences between two geo-cultural regions, by using a universal language: Art.

Hosted by Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg from 31 October to 9 December 2023, this artistic conversation is twofold: one component is the exhibition Arte Povera 1967-1971, curated by the Italian curator Ilaria Bernardi, and another is South African Innovations, 1980s-2020s, curated by the South African curator Thembinkosi Goniwe.

Arte Povera is Italy’s most internationally known postwar artistic research. It was developed in Italy in the second half of the 1960s and was defined as such in 1967 by curator Germano Celant, to identify the artistic process of some Italian artists that “consists of removing, eliminating, reducing to the minimum terms, impoverishing signs, in order to reduce them to their archetypes.”

For the first time, Arte Povera artworks will be displayed on the African continent. Arte Povera 1967-1971 showcases works by the 13 artists who, after additions and subtractions after 1967, are now considered the canonical representatives of Arte Povera: Giovanni Anselmo, Alighiero Boetti, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro, Jannis Kounellis, Mario Merz, Marisa Merz, Giulio Paolini, Pino Pascali, Giuseppe Penone, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Emilio Prini, and Gilberto Zorio. The exhibition includes historical works, created between 1967 and 1971 and exhibited during significant group shows of Arte Povera at the end of the 1960s.

The exhibition South African Innovations, 1980s - 2020s, curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, underscores the trajectory of experimentation, discovery and improvisation in the work of 13 South African artists. Locally grounded and globally orientated, these artists have advanced artistic practices that intersect with international artistic movements such as Arte Povera. They are Jane Alexander, Willem Boshoff, Bongiwe Dhlomo, Kay Hassan, David Thubu Koloane, Moshekwa Langa, Billy Mandindi, Senzeni Marasela, Kagiso Pat Mautloa, Thokozani Mthiyane, Lucas Seage, Usha Seejarim and Kemang Wa Lehulere.

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