Skin, Bone, Fire: The First Album
Solo exhibition
By Philiswa Lila, 2018 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto winner
From 27 May to 25 July
At Durban Art Gallery

Winner of the prestigious 2018 Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award Philiswa Lila will exhibit her show entitled Skin, Bone, Fire: The First Album at the Durban Art Gallery from 27 May to 25 July.

Through this exhibition, Philiswa explores the physical, mental and spiritual spaces held close by her personal experiences. She focuses on the link methods or story methods of remembering. Philiswa is particularly interested in memory histories and personal identities. Philiswa is influenced by the nuances of language, meaning and experiences of individualism, especially concerning the physical and emotional senses that are related to humans and animals.

Philiswa work is multi-disciplinary, including painting, installation, performance and writing. Many of the techniques used in her installation and performance work are linked to forms that will fit bodies. Her choice of materials and form is important to the recording of stories using bodies as archives and traces of personal experiences that connect the past with the present.

The Absa L’Atelier Gerard Sekoto Award is bestowed upon a young emerging South African artist aged 25 to 35 to enter the competition and who continues to grow and develop in their career.

The Embassy of France in South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), and the Alliance Française network, in partnership with Absa and the South African National Association for Visual Arts (SANAVA), introduced the award in 2004 to honour Sekoto’s legacy which transformed the way black South African artists are perceived, valued and documented. Only South African artists who have previously entered the Absa L’Atelier Awards and who have continually demonstrated improvement in their art-making are eligible.
Lila, as the winner of the Gerard Sekoto award, enjoyed a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in 2019, French lessons through the Alliance Française, and now, a travelling exhibition through the Alliance Française network in South Africa in 2020.

Philiswa Lila

Philiswa Lila (b. 1988) is a visual artist, curator and scholar fascinated by the socially relevant and timely issues of authorship and agency. She is interests are in memory histories and theories of personal identities. Lila works across disciplines like painting, installation and performance art, which includes the use of mediums such as animal skin (sheep, goat and cow), beading, wood, paper, photography, video and poetry.

She holds a Master’s in Art History from Rhodes University, an Honours in Curatorship from University of Cape Town, Project Management Certificate from UNISA and a B.Tech in Fine and Applied Arts from Tshwane University of Technology. Lila became the 2018 recipient of the prestigious Gerald Sekoto Award, which included a residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.

Lila has also participated artist residency programs at the Bag Factory Studios in Johannesburg (2013) and Greatmore Studios in Cape Town (2014). Lila is currently an artist residency in the GendV Project: Urban Tranformation and Gendered Violence in India and South Africa hosted by the University of Johannesburg and the University of Cambridge.Her research and practice entails producing a creative body of work whose artistic processes make use of materiality as it relates to the physical existence of everyday objects, histories of places and human conditions.

Her recent projects include Institute for Creative Arts Online Fellowship (2020), and Home Museum  (2020). Selected group exhibitions include the University of South African AcquisitionsJoburg Art Fair Dialogue with Masters, Pretoria Art Museum Neo EmergenceReview Exhibition for Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust, Sculptx, Speculative Enquiry 1 (UCT), to mention a few. Through her representation with The Melrose Gallery, Dr. Esther Mahlangu selected Lila as an ‘artist to watch’ for the 2019 SEED auction. Her artworks are in collections including University of South Africa Art Gallery, University of Cape Town Collection, University of Pretoria, Absa Bank, Spier Arts Trust, Gallery Brulhart and private collections.

She has presented papers conferences including African Feminisms (Afems), 14th National Conference of the South African Journal of Arts History (SAJAH), 34th Annual South Africa Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH) and Narrative Enquiry For Social Transformation (NEST) Colloquium & Summer School