A Panorama of Design

May 4, 2021

By Eve M. Kahn


This article is part of our latest Design special report, which is about expanding the possibilities of your home.


          Andile Dyalvane, an artist in Cape Town, molds terra-cotta chairs and stools in the shapes of oversize glyphs, symbolizing Xhosa words for fundamental concepts like “home” and “sustenance.” Along the clay surfaces, he sculpts small-scale versions of the symbols’ slashes, spikes and curves. The forms appear in Mr. Dyalvane’s dreams, too, he said, and it’s as if they bug him to include them in his art — “and it’s a good bugging,” he said.

          His new seating series, with 18 examples (prices upon request), is on view through May 22 at Friedman Benda gallery in New York. The exhibition, titled “iThongo,” after a Xhosa term for ancestral dreamscapes, previously appeared at Southern Guild gallery in Cape Town and in Mr. Dyalvane’s remote hometown, Ngobozana.

          During his childhood, he used riverbank clay there to make ephemeral sculptures, while tending his family’s livestock. A glaze-drenched columnar chair from his series, titled “Shepherd,” has been installed as a permanent outdoor sculpture on a nearby hilltop formerly inhabited by his community (they were pushed off ancestral lands by apartheid-era policies). In the Friedman Benda show, a lichen-green-and-brown seat titled “Ngobozana” has an arc handle and is textured with glyphs, gouges and nodules.

          Jennifer Olshin, a partner at Friedman Benda, said the public would be allowed to sit on Mr. Dyalvane’s works, “definitely, absolutely, gingerly.”


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