The Association For Visual Arts (AVA) at the Metropolitan Gallery, 35 Church Street, Cape Town, presents three new solo exhibitions. In the main gallery AVA pays tribute to the late Godfrey Setti who died tragically several weeks ago at the age of 43. This memorial exhibition will showcase his most recent paintings, intended for his solo show at AVA in May 2002. In the long gallery Masha du Toit will exhibit a series of handmade and decorated puppets in an exhibition entitled ‘The South Africans’, while upstairs John Murray will show his most recent drawings.
Godfrey Setti was born in Kitwe, Zambia, in 1958. Before his untimely death earlier this year (2002), Setti was studying for his PHD in Fine Art at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He obtained his Masters degree in Fine Art from Rhodes in 2001. In addition, he holds a B A Honours degree in Art from Reading University in the UK (1988- 1991), an Art Teachers Diploma from Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka (1984 –1986) and a Primary Teachers Certificate from Kitwe Teachers College (1978 –1980). He received several scholarships and grants for his art studies, including a grant in 1996 for his book "Art and Artists in Zambia", and undertook numerous travel/study trips in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi and South Africa.
Setti started actively drawing, painting and illustrating in 1967 at primary school in Kitwe. At secondary school he concentrated on painting. He studied at the Kitwe Teachers College, but did not want to develop his career as a primary school teacher. Instead, he wanted to obtain an art teachers diploma, which he did in 1986.
Most of Setti’s professional life was spent working as a painter, primary school teacher, art teacher and as senior lecturer in Art and Art History at Evelyn Hone College, all in Zambia. In the early 1990s he served as the director of Godsett Arts Limited in Lusaka and as chairman of the Mbile International Artists, as well as on various other advisory committees and trusts. From 1990 to 2000 he participated in several art workshops, Mbile (Zambia 1993 –1998), Art From the Front-line (UK 1990), Pachipamwe (Zimbabwe 1992), Thapong (Botswana 1995) and Thupelo (Malmesbury, Cape 2000).
Setti began exhibiting on group exhibitions in 1982, mainly in a variety of galleries in Lusaka, but also in Zimbabwe, Gaberone, Dublin, Glasgow, Finland, New York (Contemporary African Museum, and Skoto Gallery), London (Africa Centre), and in Germany. He held his first solo exhibition in Mpapa Gallery in Lusaka in 1988, followed by solos in Reading and London in the UK, and many more solos in Lusaka right through the 1990s. In 1999 he held a solo in the Dakawa Art Centre in Grahamstown and in May 2000 (almost exactly two years ago), he held his first one-person exhibition in Cape Town, at AVA, upstairs in the Artsstrip.
Setti’s work is represented in the public and corporate art collections of Meridien BIAO, the Lechwe Trust, British VSO, Mbapa Gallery, Speciality Foods, Mbile Workshop, Inter Africa, Access Financial Services and the National Collection, all in Lusaka, as well as in the collection of the Salfold City Council in the UK. His work also hangs in numerous private collections in Zambia, South Africa, Canada and elsewhere abroad.
Of his art Setti said, several years ago: " Art is a developing phenomenon. I am continually innovating and growing with my art through figurative impressionism and, more recently, through abstraction, all of which I enjoy and believe will develop into something new. I am currently favouring reds, blacks, purples and ochre yellows in my work."
Clearly, the power of colour, contrast and dynamic movement are very significant in his art. In attempting to capture the essence of typical contemporary African life, he commented: " African villages and towns have an expressive life beat in theme, which is unique the world over. I hope to breathe that essence into my paintings. Art is rib of my body".
Masha du Toit, in the long gallery, has the following to say about herself and this exhibition at AVA: "I grew up in Stellenbosch and Cape Town, lived in Durban for seven years and have recently returned to Cape Town. I completed my degree in Fine Arts at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town and then moved to Durban to do a Higher Diploma in Bronze Casting at the Natal Technikon’s sculpture department.
In my year at the foundry at the Technikon, I started to learn how to embroider, and did performance pieces and installations. An important aspect of these pieces was the sound element. I recorded a variety of noises that I played in the exhibition space.
Since then I have been working mostly with embroidery. In 1999 I participated, first in the Cape Town ‘art night’ and then in the "Oos Wes Tuis Bes" installation at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn where I presented an interactive performance piece that combined embroidery with recorded sound.
My exhibition 'The South Africans' at AVA consists of twelve puppets. Each puppet represents some aspect of what it is to be a South African. There is the Street Kid and the Car Guard, the Prostitute and the Story Teller, and many more.
Although the thoughts that led to their creation were serious, the puppets themselves have a light and playful nature. Their bodies consist of embroidered silks and velvets covered with beads and sequins. Some have coins sewn to their bodies, others seeds and shells.
While working on them I struggled with various issues. Our obsession with crime and security. The guilt of living in an unjust and unequal world. How memory and the suppression of memory affect how we shape our lives.
I tried to understand how it is possible for people to be capable of unthinking and callous cruelty – not just the acts of criminals, but also the lack of human feeling we all learn to practise in order to survive in an unjust world.
My aim is not to judge, or to make caricatures of typical 'South African types', but rather to explore the complexity of the people who surround me."
John Murray, in the Artsstrip, presents "Black and White", ‘an exhibition of charcoal drawings that combines a diverse series of iconography, fusing reality with the imaginary, personal with public. The exhibition creates a merry mix of notions surrounding visual overload, melancholy, violence, ambiguity, religion and more.’
Murray, born in 1973, holds a B A Fine Arts degree from the University of Stellenbosch (1996) where he subsequently worked as a part-time lecturer in Screenprinting. For the last five years he has worked as a freelance illustrator.
He began taking part in group exhibitions in 1996, including "Portraits" (The Planet Site 1996), "Bad Books" (Arts Association Bellville 1997) "Drom"(KKNK 1997), "Unplugged 3" (Market Theatre Gallery 1998), "Canvas" (Bellville 1999), "Absolut Secret" (AVA 2000), "Container" (Rust-en-Vrede 2000), "Waver" (KKNK 2001) and various Stellenbosch University Student and Staff exhibitions. He held his second solo at the Bell-Roberts Gallery in 2001. He ahs also exhibited in group exhibitions in Marbella and in London.
This is Murray's third solo exhibition, but his second solo at AVA, the first being in March 2000.
Induna with Inkomazi
Mixed medium on canvas
1110 x 730 mm