About Amita Makan | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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About The Artist

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"...By combining two elements - the archive and the relic - the artist brings together that rare combination of memory with ‘thing’ - the tangible and the intangible - allowing a bridge to be constructed between history and the contemporary. The methods she employs are translation into evolving language, interpretation into evolving meanings, and mediation from an archival source into magical renderings of fabric, sequins, crystals and light."

The first striking thing when encountering Makan's work is her exuberant use of materials: swatches of silk and silken threads, sequins and crystals and ribbons come together on fabric that shimmers or is netted, like a veil, to reveal both the front and the back. She is lavish in her choice of media. With abandon, she creates light streams that visually jump, like nerve impulses, into the shimmer of graphic outlines and glassy pools. Her base fabrics form flat matt substrates for reflective animations. The viewing experience is sensuous and seductive. Presenting one medium against another, the textures emerge. Matt and gloss interface to create physical relief, visual buckles, additional dimensions, and varied topographies. Narratives are told through these animations; new things always emerge. Each viewing moment is different from the next, and this is part of the works' enticement: continual flux, signs of tension, drawing the viewer closer. 

- Brenton Maart on Nomalungelo: Threads to Freedom series

Brenton Maart, M.Sc. (Rhodes University), M.A. (University of the Witwatersrand).Curator: South African Pavilion at 55th la Biennale di Venezia. PhD Scholar: Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town

Artist Biography

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; Ron Belling Gallery, Port Elizabeth, 2011).

Selected group exhibitions include: Awesome Womxn (Arts of Association, Pretoria, 2019), Artgenève (Galerie Rosa Turetsky, Geneva, 2019, 2018, 2017), Emerging Visions: Launch exhibition of the National Art Bank (Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein, 2017–2018), Speaking out and Standing up (Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein, 2018), Aqua (Art for the World, Lake Maggiore, 2018), A New Humanity (Dakar Biennale, Dakar, 2018), Ubuntutu: A Commitment to Peace, Love and Social Justice – Quilt Tributes To Desmond and Leah Tutu (Robben Island Museum, Cape Town; Stellenbosch University Museum; Potchefstroom Museum, 2016–2017), Imago Mundi – Bennetton Foundation (Ca’dei Carraresi, Treviso; Museo Bilotti, Rome; Giogio Cini Foundation, Venice Biennale; Pratt Institute of Brooklyn; and the United Nations, New York, 2015).

Makan has been awarded residencies at the Cite International des Arts (Paris, 2014) and the Chowmahalla Palace of the Centre for World Exposition of Arts and Culture (Hyderabad, 2010). In 2014 she participated in France–South Africa Dialogues at the Orangerie du Senat, Paris, and in 1994 received a British Council Scholarship. In 2016–2017, Makan collaborated with Reach for Recovery on the Artivism for Breast Cancer fashion programme.

The artist’s works are housed in the following collections: South African National Art Bank, Robert Sobukwe Museum and Learning Centre, University of South Africa, Dr Miriam Makeba Concert Hall, University of Pretoria, Edoardo Villa Museum, South African Reserve Bank, Durban International Convention Centre, Luciano Benetton Foundation, and the Chowmahalla Palace Collection.

Amita has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Political Science (1989), a BA Honors Degree (1990) and a Masters Degree (1993) in International Relations from Rhodes University. She worked as a policy researcher at the University of Cape Town and the Human Sciences Research Council in Pretoria. In 1994 she was awarded a British Council Scholarship to study Gender Policy and Planning at the University College London in the United Kingdom.

Upcoming Exhibitions

  • 2021: Āvāhana – Invocation, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Reservoir, 5 October - 22 Janaury 2022 (see exhibition catalogue)
  • Solo Exhibitions

  • 2016: 'Vasant' Rosa Turetsky Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2014: Nomalungelo: Threads To Freedom curated by Brenton Maart, Constitution Hill, Johannesburg
  • 2011: 'Evanescence', Ron Belling Gallery, Port Elizabeth
  • 2010: 'Evanescence', KwaZulu Natal Society of Arts (KZNSA) Gallery, Durban

    Public Collections

  • Oliewenhuis Art Museum
  • Robert Sobukwe Museum and Learning Centre
  • South African National Art Bank
  • Luciano Benetton Collection, Italy
  • Edoardo Villa Museum, University of Pretoria
  • University of Kwa-Zulu Natal
  • University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • Dr Miriam Makeba Concert Hall, UNISA.
  • The South African Reserve Bank
  • University of Pretoria
  • International Convention Centre (Durban)
  • Chowmahallah Palace, Hyderabad India.

    Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2021: 'Folds & Faults' Johann Stegmann Art Gallery Gallery, Bloemfontein, 18 August - 17 September 2021 (see exhibition catalogue)
  • 2019 AWESOME WOMXN, a group exhibition curated by Dr Adéle Adendorff, Association of Arts, Pretoria, 2 - 20 August 2019.
  • 2019 Exhibition for Women's Month, UNISA Art Gallery, Pretoria, August 2019.
  • 2019 Tswela Pele: First Collection of the Art Bank of South Africa, Durban Art Gallery, 19 March - 12 May 2019.
  • 2019 ‘Birds’ curated by Hamlin Jansen van Vuuren, Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, Cape Town, 12 March - 3 April 2019
  • 2019 Artgenève Salon d’art, Galerie Rosa Turetsky, Geneva, Switzerland, 31 January - 3 February 2019
  • 2018 Speaking Out & Standing Up - An exhibition in honour of courageous South African women, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, 1 - 26 August 2018
  • 2018 Me, Myself and I – Stuart Trent portraits, Pretoria Art Museum, 23 February to 29 April 2018.
  • 2018 Dakar Biennale ‘New Humanity’ curated by Simon Njami, 3 May - 2 June 2018.
  • 2018 Aqua Contemporary Artists and Water Issues, Adelina von Fürstenberg, United Nations Art For The World, Isola dei Pescatori, Italy, 26 - 27 May 2018.
  • 2018 Artgenève Fair with Galerie Rosa Turetsky, Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland.
  • 2017-2018 Launch of the South African National Art Bank, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein.
  • 2017 Art Geneva Fair 2017, Rosa Turetsky Gallery, Geneva .
  • 2017 Group show, 'Tiny' curated by Megan Scott, In Toto Gallery, Johannesburg, 29 June 2017.
  • 2016-2017 'Artvism for Breast Cancer', a collaboration with South African designer, Vanessa Gounden London and Reach for Recovery 2016-2017.
  • 2017 Group show of South African and American artists 'Life Legacies Of Love and Action: Quilt Tributes to Desmond and Leah Tutu and American artists’ curated by Professor Marsha MacDowell and Aleia Brown of Michigan State University. The exhibition was first held in October 2016 at the Nelson Mandela Gateway Museum in Cape Town and will then travel to the Stellenbosch Museum, the Potchestroom Museum in June 2017 and, finally, to the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, Cape Town in October 2017.
  • 2017 Carnevale exhibition curated by Carol Brown of ‘Curate. A. Space’, International Conventional Centre, Durban, 28 September - 1 October 2017.
  • 2016 Luciano Benetton Foundation 'Imago Mundi' Foundation collection at the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn and the United Nations , New York, 2016 (see www.pratt.edu)
  • 2016 'In the Midst of Things' by 'Curated by Collective' at the Klein Karoo Kuns (KKNK) Festival
  • 2014/15 The Luciano Benetton Foundation's 'Small Canvas Project' showcasing South African Artists by Nadja Daehnke at Ca’ dei Carraresi, Treviso, 2014 (www.laviadellaseta.info), Museo Bilotti, Rome, November 2014 to 20 January 2015 (see www.museocarlobilotti.it), and Imago Mundi exhibition at Giogio Cini Foundation, Venice Biennale 2015,
  • 2014 'I take it all back' by Jayne Crawshay Hall and Maaike Bekker, Nirox Projects, Johannesburg
  • 2013 'Trans Africa- Africa Curating Africa' by Jane Crawshay-Hall, William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley
  • 2013 'France-South Africa Dialogues' by the Pretoria Arts Association, Orangerie du Senat, Paris
  • 2013 'Trans Africa- Africa Curating Africa', by Jane Crawshay-Hall, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg
  • 2013 Fried Autumn Art Fair, Fried Gallery, Pretoria (Awarded Merit Prize)
  • 2013 'EK/Me', by Professor Elfriede Dreyer, Klein Karoo Nationale Kuns Festival (KKNK), Outshoorn
  • 2012 'ME 3' by Professor Dreyer, Fried Gallery, Pretoria
  • 2012 'Pointure' by Ann-Marie Tully and Jennifer Kopping, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), Johannesburg
  • 2010 'Land: Diversity and Unity' by Dr Gwen Miller, Chowmahallah Palace, Hyderabad, India
  • 2010 March 'Bodies in Transition', by Professor Dreyer, Fried Gallery, Pretoria.
  • 2009 Invited by the High Commissioner of Australia, Ms Ann Harrap, to exhibit at the Residence on International Women’s Day.


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