Scent of invisible footprints. The sculpture of Pitika Ntuli
Edited by Antoinette Ntuli
Unisa Press, Pretoria, South Africa. With a generous sponsorship from MTN.
|Book cover image:
Nzinga, the Warrior Queen (Detail). Dolorite,
The full size image of the sculpture is on p 58 f the book. (size: 98h 31w
Black like an Angolan night towering
Above mundane colonial dreams
Reaching the stars to light the road
To freedom paved with royal blood
Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity by Pitika Ntuli,2010, p 58
22 August 2010, Book release, Museum Africa, Newtown, Johannesburg,
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I love you with the power of undulating
curves of bones
with the marrow of memory
of our first kiss
under a bridge too far
(From Scent of Invisible Footprints: The sculpture of Pitika Ntuli, P 124)
Book cover image
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 sculptors 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?
It is this context that highlights the significance for South Africa of a retrospective exhibition of Pitika Ntulis art. Pitikas 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 Marys 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 artists 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 artists poems is inserted in the back sleeve of the catalogue. The foreword is by MTNs CEO and catalogue essays by Ali Khangela Hlongwane (Chief Curator, Museum Africa), Yonah Seleti (General Manager, NIKSO), James Swinson (Central St Martins 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.
Foreword by Phuthuma Nhleko 105
CEO | MTN
Its 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
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
ABOUT PITIKA NTULI
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 Ntulis website, www.pitikantuli.com
Prof Pitika Ntuli
A TASTE OF PITIKA NTULIS ART WORK AND POETRY
- a selection of poems and images from the newly released book,
- Scent of invisible footprints: The sculpture of Pitika Ntuli, 2010
Triangular Trade (detail)
200 Year Old Wild Mahogany, 210h 77w
We begin a new era after acid
Rains of repression
Tentative smiles, robust bodies
Our coagulated blood carved into
Visions of new dreams
Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity by Pitika Ntuli,2010, p 23
Oak, 100h 60w
In a recurring anthropomorphic dream,
I become a lion guarding,
Gates of jungles from marauding,
Corruptors of my land!
Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity by Pitika Ntuli, 2010, p37
Memories of Home and Exile
Quartz, 63h 31w
Memories of Dumile
Dolomite, 37h 34w
Stability of dreams
Quartz, 61 h 65 w
Quartz, 48h 33w
Echoes of Mlungisi Gibo (Detail)
I look down to the fertile soil of memory
my ears flood with melodies
of robust bass strings
that speak of new beginnings in our land
Then my ancestors look up to me
and my music dances
Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity by Pitika Ntuli, 2010, p 79
Wheelbarrow, spade and hoes, 203h 84w
3rd Insurrection of feet
They frogmarched me into
the army to kill people
I do not hate
Who wished to kill
those I love
Now that we did not kill each other
New bosses demand a new war
My feet walk backwards
at the command
Scent of Invisible Footprints in Moments of Complexity by Pitika Ntuli, 2010, p 130