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Curator Spotlight: Kimberley Cunningham picks her top three works from Reshape 22


Kimberley Cunningham, photo credit: Micha Serraf

As a leading expert in Contemporary Art from Africa and the diaspora, Kimberley Cunningham combines her curatorial and advisory roles to create a new model through which to champion art from the continent and beyond.

Kimberley graduated as valedictorian of Central Saint Martins (London), specialising in Art Criticism & Curation and upon graduating she worked at Gagosian Gallery (London) followed by Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town & London). In 2020 she went independent and founded Cunningham Contemporary, which uses a collaborative model for both curatorial practice and art advisory services.

In February 2021, she initiated a new exhibition model in Johannesburg entitled RESTUDIO, which served as a response to the limitations around viewing art in person through national lockdowns and postponements of art fairs. Working closely with WHATIFTHEWORLD Gallery, AFRONOVA GALLERY and a group of independent artists, the exhibition positioned itself as a three-month project to support creatives and galleries across Southern Africa.

Today Kimberley is the Head Curator for the new Singita Art Gallery project, aiming to consciously celebrate African art whilst remaining true to Singita’s conservation roots. The Singita art concept and its expanding programme was born out of a desire to find further ways to support conservation while creating a platform to showcase contemporary art and support artists from across the continent. “We are fortunate through the gallery projects to be custodians of the diverse cultures of Africa and to be able to share these important stories through creative practices,” says Kimberley.

Passionate about empowering women in the creative sector, Kimberley is the Founder of WIA Africa (Women in Art Africa), a platform dedicated to support, encourage and mentor art professionals across the continent which is officially launching in early 2023.

Q: What you think about the Reshape 22 show as a whole? Do you believe there is a need for an annual survey show of this nature?

KC: Having an annual survey like Reshape 22 serves as both a celebration and important catalyst for women-identifying artists, who have historically been overviewed. As a champion of artists from the continent, particularly the extraordinary women within it, I am overjoyed by the efforts of the Latitudes team to create such a powerful platform. There is a collective energy that is palpable through dialogue that the works are able to have amongst each other through a survey of this nature and it is a delight to explore. 

Kimberley Cunningham's top three works

Each of the three artworks from my selection are an exploration of the physical and non-physical. Rooted by the body or the geographically physical, the three very different artists are challenging the viewer through both their layered meanings and techniques. 

Following on from the exploration of historical spirituality and religion, Lungile Ngcobo creates ghost-like classical portraits through archival photo montages. The faceless characters appear otherworldly and surreal and the viewer is positioned to carefully unwrap the complex layers of the imagery. The familiarity of the uniforms is displaced within the landscapes and she does not offer us all the answers, which gives the viewers the opportunity to interrogate their own questions. 

Lungile Ngcobo, Umyalelo Wentliziyo, R 10,000 ex. VAT

Having followed Amy Rusch’s work for quite some time, I have always been captured by her meditative repetitive technique of cutting and stitching using thread and plastic bags. Both materials have such a delicate, feminine quality reminiscent of both skin and traditional historically feminine craft. It through her cutting and melding of the two materials together that create a beautiful strength appearing almost as cartographic tattoos on skin.

Amy Rusch, Leaf from a dream, 2021, R 15,000 ex. VAT

Umseme Uyakhuluma exquisitely captures the celestial energy, of tradition and modernity. This body of work has been formed through a wonderfully collaborative practice made up of women photographers, videographers and creatives spearheaded by Zana Masombuka. I’m so excited by this type of co-creation and have seen incredible examples of this across the continent. I'm looking forward to watching it evolve and push the boundaries of artistic practice. 

Umseme Uyakhuluma, UMSEME UYAKHULUMA XV, R 20,000 ex. VAT

Further Reading In Articles

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