Oliewenhuis Art Museum is proud to announce Āvāhana-Invocation, the first iteration of a travelling solo exhibition by South African-born artist Amita Makan. Celebrated internationally for fabric constructions with embroidery and collage, Makan infuses her work with identity, memory and history by using vintage saris, and intuits the contemporary by integrating found materials – the detritus of plastic that litters our surroundings and pollutes our expressions of care.
Makan begins with a self-portrait from which radiating avenues explore the flailing survival of the very nature upon which we depend. In this way, Makan underlines her role within an increasingly urgent cultural response to capitalist-driven environmental mayhem that, here, takes form as a prayer to restore the balance and harmony of a fractured earth. In an essay accompanying the exhibition, art historian Hélène Tissières writes: “The rendering of nature into art aims to question the… domination of nature which gradually leads to the disappearance of thousands of species, breaking the food chain, disrupting the regulation of the ecosystem.” Tissières references philosopher Félix Guattari who “decries the work of politicians who … have proven unequal to the task assigned to them…” He contends that only an ethical-political linkage between environment, social relations and human subjectivity will be able to answer these questions. For him, “it is essential that individuals change their way of acting, their conditioning… reconstruct their subjectivity, rework their social relationships and break free of their passivity.” It is this political manifesto that Makan invokes in her works that, through delicate rendering, speak of a fragility undermined by greed.
Amita Makan was born in South End, Port Elizabeth, currently lives and works in Pretoria, South Africa, and has produced three solo exhibitions to date: Vasant (Galerie Rosa Turetsky, Geneva, 2016), Nomalungelo: Threads To Freedom (Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, 2014), and Evanescence (KZNSA, Durban, 2011). Selected international group exhibitions include Artgenève (Geneva, 2019, 2018, 2017), Aqua (presented by the NGO Art For The World, Lake Maggiore, 2018), A New Humanity (Dakar Biennale, Dakar, 2018) and Imago Mundi – Bennetton Foundation (Treviso, Rome, Venice Biennale, Pratt Institute of Brooklyn and the United Nations, New York, 2015). The artist has been awarded residencies at the Cité International des Arts (Paris, 2014) and the Chowmahalla Palace (Hyderabad, 2010), and works are housed in collections of the Art Bank of South Africa, Robert Sobukwe Museum, University of South Africa, University of Pretoria, Edoardo Villa Museum, South African Reserve Bank, Durban International Convention Centre, Luciano Benetton Foundation and the Chowmahalla Palace Collection.
The Āvāhana-Invocation can be viewed from 5 October until 14 November 2021 in the Reservoir at Oliewenhuis Art Museum. The art museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00, and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00. Entrance is free and secure parking is available for visitors. A ramp at the entrance of the main entrance provides access for wheel chairs, while a lift provides access to the Permanent Collection display areas on the first floor.