Scent of invisible footprints. The sculpture of Pitika Ntuli
Book cover image
||Prof Pitika Ntuli
||Unisa Press, Pretoria, South Africa. With a generous sponsorship from MTN.
||South Africa: R460 (incl VAT) | Africa: R466 | USD: $61 | GBP: £43 | Euro: €49
About the book
Scent of Invisible Footprints intermingles poetry, prose and sculpture and gives the reader a glimpse into the complex and restless mind of Pitika Ntuli who spent 32 years of his life in exile. Pitika carries us into the world of wood, stone, bone and metal – turning the familiar into novelty; demystifying daily objects; powerfully conveying human feeling and sensibilities - ideas, philosophies and dreams ooze out of solid, apparently inanimate, objects. His works are full of humour, wit and magic, and are imbued with profound indigenous insights, whilst at the same time conversing with Western artists like Modigliani, Giacometti and Picasso. To read the book is to follow the scent of invisible footprints into the womb of this extraordinary sculptor’s creative mind.
Is it foolishness, obstinacy, foolhardiness,or is it crass perversity to continue to carve a delicate bone piece for hours and hours,for months on end, knowing that it could break into pieces at anytime? Is the agony of the thought, the ecstasy of achieving an accomplished work of Art, as a step toward creating the ultimate masterpiece, worth it?’
– Pitika Ntuli
It is this context that highlights the significance for South Africa of a retrospective exhibition of Pitika Ntuli’s art. Pitika’s work is in various media, and the beauty, diversity and complexity of form reflect the combination of an extraordinarily unique creativity, a powerful intellect and a profound spirituality. Pitika sculpts in five main media: found objects (metal and plastic); stone; bone and wood.
Pitika Ntuli has exhibited in several individual and group exhibitions in many countries in Europe and in the USA, and has organised numerous international art and cultural events in Britain. His sculptures form part of several collections, and some of his public sculptures can be found in the Swaziland National Bank, Matsapa International Airport and St Mary’s Catholic Church in Lobamba. However, he has never exhibited in his own country, South Africa.
The massive retrospective of his sculpture, organised by Museum Africa, opened in mid-May 2010, and included works of found objects, bone, wood and stone, several of which echo the struggles of South African workers throughout recent history. The works represent the artist’s development over the last 45 years, although many of the sculptures have been created since his return to his native South Africa in 1994, and much of the collection in the last two years.
The catalogue includes photos of the sculptures, essays, poems and drawings. In addition, a small poetry volume of the artist’s poems is inserted in the back sleeve of the catalogue. The foreword is by MTN’s CEO and catalogue essays by Ali Khangela Hlongwane (Chief Curator, Museum Africa), Yonah Seleti (General Manager, NIKSO), James Swinson (Central St Martin’s School of Art, London), Ari Sitas ( Professor of Sociology (UCT) and Poet), Nalini Moodley (lecturer in Art, TUT), David Koloane (artist), and Antoinette Ntuli make this catalogue an inspiring read.
About the author
Poet, writer and sculptor Prof Pitika Ntuli was educated in South Africa, Swaziland US and the UK. He studied fine art and art history attaining an MFA degree and an MA in Comparative Industrial Relations and Industrial Sociology. He spent his exile years in the U.K. where he helped establish one of Europe's leading poetry circuits, Apples & Snakes, in London, and where he also lectured in Fine Art and English Literature. While in London he also worked closely with Amnesty International and Index-on-Censorship. He returned to South Africa at the end of 1994 and lectured at Wits University before he joined the staff of the University of Durban-Westville in 1995. In 1996-97 he was seconded to the post of Deputy Vice Chancellor with a brief to stabilise the tormented institution. In 1996-97 he was seconded to the post of Deputy Vice Chancellor. He has held several portfolios on boards including the BAT Centre Trust, Universal Creative Arts, and Artists for Human Rights.
Pitika Ntuli has performed his poetry with leading musicians such as the late Dudu Pukwana, Mervin Africa, Julkian Bahule, Lucky Ranku and Eugene Skeef. He toured Europe several times with his poetry which has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. He performed at the inauguration of South African President Thabo Mbeki in April 2004. Pitika is also a sculptor with a few public statues to his credit. He has performed as a poet and presenter at numerous Poetry Africa festivals most recently in 2006 at the 10th Poetry Africa festival.
Ntuli previously held a professorship in both fine art and sociology, was Director and founder of the African Renaissance Institute of the University of Durban-Westville, and Executive Director of Sankofa African Renaissance Development Institute.. Previously he was Professor of Sociology at Howard College, South Africa.
Pitika Ntuli has organised numerous international art and cultural events in Britain and as an artist has his sculptures in several collections. Some of his public sculptures can be found in the Swaziland National Bank, Mtsapa International Airport and St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lobamba. See also Pitika Ntuli’s website, www.pitikantuli.com
Foreword by Phuthuma Nhleko 105
CEO | MTN
‘It’s been a long journey’: the life and times of Pitika Ntuli Ali Khangela Hlongwane 008
Touching the Heart of Anguish: Pitika – Reflections and Reminders in the Mirror of Your Past Antoinette Ntuli 018
At The Nerve End of Our Dream James Swinson 098
Indigenous African Art & Healing: Forgotten Memories, Planting Memories of Tomorrow Pitika Ntuli 098
Explorations of Space and Time Nalini Naidoo 067
Poem Astrid von Kotze 178
Pitika Ntuli, magic, and the transmutation of objects David Koloane 189
The Backwards Flight of a Wily Entangler Ari Sitas 199