“Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source)” is Pitika Ntuli‘s latest exhibition, which was opened at the June 2020 celebration of public art expressions by Naledi Pandor. It was important for this main festival program that tested the fixed meanings of contemporary and conventional art.
As a Sangoma, it was not unexpected that Pitika Ntuli chose creature bones as the medium for this collection of works – 45 bone sculptures usually matched with acclaimed melodies. African mysticism and contemporary art are rarely associated and her use of creature bones (elephant, rhino, giraffe and horse), tenderly coaxed into molded human models, results in striking works.
Using the methodology of a Sangoma, allowing the material to direct him, the artist evokes deep, native African information frames that can address contemporary issues.
Pitika Ntuli has addressed relevant socio-political issues as an academic, essayist and instructor, but as the title of his exhibition suggests, the artist returns to the source of articulation. Thus, he empowers society to return to the source of African mysticism and information to address issues of debasement, greed, and poverty. Most importantly, the bone figures – the result of Pitika Ntuli‘s extraction of human features from creature skeletons – express his desire to see humanity reconnect with nature.
The works generated such a response that artists, writers, essayists, and thought leaders such as Sibongile Khumalo, Zolani Mahola, Simphiwe Dana, Yvonne Chaka, Gcina Mhlope to Ngugi wa Thiongo, Homi Bhabha, Albie Sachs, Shado Twala, and Ari Sitas, as well as many others, contributed melodies, words, and conversations to the exhibition’s debut.
This whirlwind of responses validated the effect of Pitika Ntuli‘s designs and their beautiful characteristics. Pitika Ntuli attributes this to her fundamental medium – bones, which are deeply suggestive.
The “Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source)” exhibition not only takes the viewer back in time, but through a particular and unique use of materials, structure, and imagery, reflects on the otherworldly no-man’s-land that might characterize this period, breaking down the hard lines remembered to isolate ancient and contemporary concerns and art.
The exhibition “Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source)” is open at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein until Sunday, December 4, 2022.