Creative Mind: Andile Dyalvane
Using traditional coiling techniques, the South African ceramic artist creates sculptural clay seats inspired by his dreams
“Visuals come to me in a dream state,” says South African ceramic artist Andile Dyalvane. “Not when I’m sleeping—but when I’m walking or talking.” This phenomenon is known in the Xhosa community as iThongo, which roughly translates to “ancestral dreamscape” and refers to the belief that messages are being transmitted from the forebearers. “They channel these symbols to me as a vessel to realize and bring others into the fold.”
Meaningful process: Using traditional coiling techniques, Dyalvane creates clay sculptural seats that are spherical or rounded at the base and then shapes the backrests into an array of symbols from his dreams. But even those unfamiliar with Xhosa culture can discover solace in the pieces. “You will find your own message that helps take you to the next level of your journey.”
On view: The imagery from Dyalvane’s most recent set of visions—which occurred in the early days of the pandemic—has figured into his latest collection of stools, chairs, and benches, handcrafted in his Cape Town studio and on display from April 29 to May 22 at Friedman Benda in New York. The exhibition, appropriately titled “iThongo,” was first shown in Dyalvane’s rural village of Ngobozana, in the province of Eastern Cape. “The ancestors were telling me I needed to go pay homage to my community,” he says. Southern Guild, which represents the artist in South Africa, also hosted the show.
“This work has a hidden aspect: healing of displacement and bringing back dignity. We need spiritual upliftment.”Andile Dyalvane
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A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2021 Spring Issue under the headline “Creative Minds.” Subscribe to the magazine.