Athi-Patra Ruga
Athi-Patra Ruga, Night of the Long Knives I, 2013. Courtesy Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD

South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga will exhibit his first major solo show in the United Kingdom as part of the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House in London opening on October 4. 

Back for it’s sixth edition, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair will host 43 galleries from 21 countries representing 130 of the top emerging and established artists in the African diaspora. SMAC Gallery, AFRONOVA Gallery and Athi-Patra Ruga’s WHATIFTHEWORLD are the three South African galleries in attendance at this year’s fair which runs alongside Frieze London from October 4-7, 2018.

Mongezi Ncaphayi
Mongezi Ncaphayi, Maiden Voyage, 2017. Courtesy the artist and SMAC

All About Athi-Patra Ruga

Athi-Patra Ruga creates mythical worlds in his work to critique and parody the post-Apartheid political, societal and cultural systems. His inaugural major UK solo show, Of Gods, Rainbows and Omissions, will bring together new and rarely seen works and three bodies of work namely The Future White Women of Azania (2012-15), Queens in Exile (2015-17), and The Beatification of Feral Benga (2017-present). The exhibit will comprise of drawing, sculpture, film, tapestry and performance.

1-54 Fair Director Touria El Glaoui is especially proud of helping to bring Ruga’s exhibit to London: “We are delighted to announce such a strong selection of Special Projects for the sixth edition of 1-54 London, particularly our collaboration with Somerset House on the first major UK solo exhibition of Athi-Patra Ruga’s striking and powerful work.”

Ruga will also participate in the extensive talks programme, 1-54 FORUM, where he will discuss his practice and the new exhibition in conversation with writer and 1-54 FORUM programme curator Ekow Eshun.

A Strong Showing of South African Art

Of the 11 solo shows at 1-54, three are South African artists: Mongezi Ncaphayi (SMAC Gallery), Anton Kannemeyer (Huberty & Breyne Gallery) and Esther Mahlangu (Burning in Water). German artist Marion Boehm (ARTCO Gallery) and the late Wonga Mancoba (Galerie Mikael Anderson) who also have solo shows both came to South Africa as adults but their work is heavily influenced by South Africa and its people.

Esther Mahlangu
Esther Mahlangu, Courtesy of Burning in Water

Nando’s, who are a 1-54 sponsor, will present work for sale by four Southern African artists in partnership with Spier Art Trust: Ricky Dyaloyi, Zemba Luzamba, John Murray and Emma Willemse. Their presentation of conceptual artist Emma Willemse work consists of a suspended installation, Suture, which continues Willemse’s investigation of the boat as a symbol of displacement and the traumatic experience of loss. 

Other notable South African artists include Buhlebezwe Siwani, Bambo Sibiya, Thania Petersen, Sethembile Msezane, Siwa Mgoboza, Michele Mathison, Senzeni, Marasela, Nelson Makamo, Phumzile Khanyile, Lebohang Kganye, Bronwyn Katz, Pieter Hugo, Lungiswa Gqunta, Kendell Geers and Jenna Burchell.

Lebohang Kganye
Lebohang Kganye, Ka 2-phisi yaka e pinky II, 2013. Copyright Lebohang Kganye, Courtesy AFRONOVA GALLERY

To find out more about 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair visit their website here. Athi-Patra Ruga’s exhibition, presented in partnership with Somerset House, is free and  continues through to 6 January 2019.