Madoda Fani

Born 1975. Western Cape, South Africa
Lives and works Cape Town, South Africa

LOTE: isiXhosa

About

Bold and emblazoned with character, the ceramic work of Madoda Fani carries a dramatically unique sensibility. Inspired by his African heritage, Fani makes hand-coiled, burnished and smoke-fired pieces that are a contemporary evolution of the traditional ceramics indigenous to Southern Africa.

Born in 1975, Fani grew up in Gugulethu township in Cape Town, South Africa and studied graphic design at Sivuyile College. In 2000, his work was selected for the Salon Internationale de l'Artisanat de Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. There he met the ceramicist Simon Masilo, who introduced him to smoke-firing.

In 2009, he moved to Johannesburg and began to deepen his craft, guided by Masilo, and then at the Kim Sacks School of Ceramics. He learned how to burnish clay with a stone from Jabu Nala, the daughter of legendary Zulu beer-pot maker Nesta Nala, and mastered smoke-firing techniques under the guidance of Nic Sithole. He credits these artists for helping to mould him into the artist he is today.

Although he uses traditional techniques, Fani's curvaceous, coiled forms and hand-carved embellishments are entirely distinct. He works on a large scale, building organic-shaped vessels whose smooth surfaces are punctuated by intricate, repetitive patterns that give them a scaled, insect-like appearance. His 2021 collection of carved ceramics titled iQweqwe, saw his patterned incisions become an all-encompassing ‘skin’ in this series of hand-coiled works. The isiXhosa title can be translated as “crust” but here refers to insect exoskeletons, a central fascination for Fani.

He has exhibited widely with Southern Guild and was a finalist for the LOEWE Foundation Craft Prize in 2022.

Artist Statement

Madoda Fani's presentation titled 'Imbokodo' draws its inspiration from the Nguni word meaning "rock" or "stone," commonly used metaphorically to depict resilient women. This term gained significance during South Africa's struggle against Apartheid, honouring women for their unwavering strength amid adversity. The iconic phrase "Wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo" ("You strike a woman, you strike a rock") became a rallying cry symbolising women's courage and determination in the pursuit of equality and freedom. Through his artistic expression, Fani celebrates the multifaceted essence of womanhood, as evidenced by five smoke-fired vessels bearing the names of five women.

The title also alludes to Fani's chosen medium, clay, which originates from rock, embodying both solidity and fluidity, impermeability and malleability. Delving into the dynamic between Zulu terms “imbokodo” and “nokubhokoda”, Fani explores the intricate interplay of pleasure and pain, intertwined with themes of penetration and permutation. 'Imbokodo' serves as a representation of endurance, fragility, fertility, and the finite nature of existence, echoing the resilience of both women and the Earth itself.

Fani employs a distinctive smoke-firing technique passed down from Nesta Nala, enriching his artistic narrative with cultural heritage and craftsmanship.

Acknowledgements & Collaborators

Madoda Fani is IOTA24 artist-in-residence at Denmark Arts during djilba season (Aug-Sep). Represented by Southern Guild, Cape Town.

Supported by IOTA24 Ambassadors' 'Residency & Exchange Fund'

Exhibiting at

Bunbury Regional Art Gallery

Set in a pink former convent, this gallery features regularly changing exhibits of local artwork.

Address

64 Wittenoom Street, Bunbury, WA 6230