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Babacar Niang, Senegal, 2014.
Babacar Niang, Senegal, 2014.

Grains of Paradise: Contemporary African Design in collaboration with Southern Guild

24 March - 30 April 2015


R & Company is pleased to announce Grains of Paradise, an exhibition of contemporary African design in collaboration with the Cape Town gallery Southern Guild. The exhibition features new and never before seen works from South African designer Porky Hefer, husband and wife design team Dokter and Misses, the design collective Ardmore, and Senegalese designer Babacar Niang. Grains of Paradise will be on view from March 24 through April 30, 2015, with an opening reception on Tuesday, March 24 from 6-8 pm.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by Aframomum melegueta, a West African spice and species of the ginger family, prevalent in African cuisine and commonly known as grains of paradise. In West African folk medicine, grains of paradise are valued for their warming and digestive properties. Among the Efik people of Nigeria, they have been used for divination and ordeals determining guilt and are also used in voodoo rites in the Caribbean. Historically, it was imported by caravan through the Saharan Desert and then distributed to Sicily and the rest of Italy, from where it was introduced to the Western world. The Grains of Paradise exhibition alludes to this history, where a collection of works that are exotic, precious and unique, with exciting stories to tell, travels from Africa and is presented in the United States.

Southern Guild principals Trevyn and Julian McGowan approached R & Company after their GUILD International Design Fair last year and the exhibition developed as a three-way dialogue between the designers and the two galleries. Of the collaboration with R & Company, Trevyn notes, "We've had the experience of working together in smaller ways over the past two years, and during that time we've started exploring the possibility of doing something bigger, more meaningful - a dream that is now resulting in the Grains of Paradise exhibition. Our ethos is totally aligned with theirs and we could think of no one better with whom we'd want to show this body of work. There's a connectivity between these works that allows for a great dialogue. We feel that R & Company's audience is perfectly literate to comprehend how meaningful this exhibition is." R & Company principal Zesty Meyers adds, "There is an energy among designers from the region that is creatively stimulating for us in incredible new ways."

African design is currently experiencing a renaissance of interest, with collectors and museums turning their attention there with greater frequency. The designers selected for this exhibition represent a range of styles, backgrounds, narrative and materials. Together, their works offer an overview of this exciting design community.

R & Company is deeply saddened by the news that artist Babacar Niang passed away on March 25, 2015.

"We feel so honored to have met Babacar Niang, an exceptional craftsman, true design genius and a kind and wonderful man. His spirit lives on in his works, which are expressions of joy and freedom, with an extraordinary combination of elegant formalist and a radical sense of play." - R & Company


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