Southern Guild at Design Miami Los Angeles
Southern Guild at Design Miami Los Angeles
Image: Supplied / Southern Guild

Southern Guild is participating in the inaugural edition of Design Miami Los Angeles, taking place at a historic private estate in Holmby Hills from May 16 to 20, 2024.  

The fair’s West Coast debut is reimagined for a domestic setting, and presents site-specific exhibitions of collectible design and artworks spread across the 1.2ha estate designed by the late African-American architect Paul R Williams.

Showcasing a collection of handcrafted work by leading African artists and designers from its roster, Southern Guild brings a distinctive point of difference within the intimate environment with designs and artworks that explore scale and materiality.

Highlights include two photographic works from Zanele Muholi’s acclaimed Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness) series, a sinuously curved bronze desk with hand-beaded curtain by Rich Mnisi, an immersive, animal-inspired seating pod by Porky Hefer, a bronze sculpture by Zizipho Poswa, fantastical bronze and hand-blown glass lights by Stanislaw Trzebinski, hand-thrown ceramic chairs by Chuma Maweni, and abstract monochromatic paintings made with engine oil and salt on linen by Alexandra Karakashian.

A monumental ceramic and bronze totem from Poswa’s most recent solo, Indyebo yakwaNtu (Black Bounty), can be seen in the middle of the garden. The sculpture references the white-beaded “isacholo” bracelet often worn by elderly Xhosa women for its healing properties – a work that “celebrates the heritage of the people who birthed me,” said the artist. It forms part of Design at Large, a special section of over-scaled outdoor works curated by the fair, along with a sculptural concrete chaise in which Mnisi pays homage to his own matrilineal heritage.

Rich Mnisi, Rifuwo (Wealth), 2023
Rich Mnisi, Rifuwo (Wealth), 2023
Image: Hayden Phipps & Southern Guild

Elsewhere, a tall timber and ceramic sculpture by Andile Dyalvane is included in the fair’s Podium section. The work’s shape evokes the mountainous landscape of the artist’s rural home in the Eastern Cape, while its surface designs reference the African scarification with which his work has become synonymous.

The presence of these works on the estate, designed by Williams during an era of racial segregation, offers a sensitive rereading of this historic space – one that is both declarative and intimate. Williams was the first black member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923 who designed multiple iconic Hollywood buildings including the homes of celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball and Cary Grant.

Having opened a second location in Melrose Hill, Los Angeles, in February 2024, Southern Guild fortifies this tether to the US, rooting the work of African artists in the local terrain.

Design Miami LA coincides with the opening of the gallery’s second exhibition in thespace, an autobiographical solo exhibition by Zanele Muholi offering insights into the evolution of their creative practice. Opening on May 18 and running until July 13, the self-entitled Zanele Muholi includes the largest presentation of the visual activist’s bronze sculpture, alongside new and iconic works from their various photographic series.

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