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Artist Profile – Meet Adolf Tega, Painter and Sculptor

 Artist Profile – Meet Adolf Tega, Painter and Sculptor
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Tega’s work can be found in several institutional and private collections, including Spier, Nando’s and the University of Cape Town.   

Adolf Tega finds inspiration in the mundane – the often-overlooked aspects of life.  

Of interest to him are the faceless and often disregarded masses that populate our environment.

He is fascinated with the density and scale of these masses – whether they are moving across borders in search of a better life or commuting together on their way to work.  

Wenera is based on a photograph of Tega’s great uncle, who migrated from Zimbabwe to South Africa seeking work in the mines. Although they never met, Tega grew up hearing stories about “the country full of honey.” This utopian narrative perhaps erases the violent realities of unhoming, both past, and present. But, Tega chooses to archive the dream before it’s deferred, where unfulfilled ambitions are seen as interrupted rather than forestalled.

In keeping with this, his artworks are often populated densely. 

Originally from Zimbabwe, Tega obtained a Diploma in Fine Art from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 2006, specialising in painting and sculpture.  

Flame lilies, Zimbabwe’s national flower, are the connective tissue between these works. Commonly grown in home gardens across the country, the flame lily has long been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of illnesses. For Tega, the flower is a symbol of collectivity: parents plant offcuts of the bushes in their children’s homes; neighbours borrow lilies from each other; herbal recipes have been passed on intergenerationally. Scattered I and II take the flower as their only subject matter, speaking to rootedness, growth, healing, and the ties that bind a common story.

In 2007 he relocated to Cape Town, where he joined the Good Hope Art Studios. He has participated in several group exhibitions and held his first solo exhibition, Africa Without Borders, at The AVA Gallery in Cape Town in 2012. 

Another iteration of Africa Without Borders was held at the MOMO Gallery in Cape Town in 2019.

Tega’s work can be found in several institutional and private collections, including Spier, Nando’s and the University of Cape Town. 

Mwanawehvu (Son of the Soil) commemorates Robert Mugabe’s resignation after three decades in power. This historical moment sparked a spontaneous sense of unity across Zimbabwe and its diasporas. Long-awaited celebration in the streets of Harare saw utopia as a real if fleeting, possibility.

He was recently chosen for the 2019 Nando’s Creative Exchange, were alongside Robyn Pretorius, Thembalethu Manqunyana and Wonder Marthinus, launched their group exhibit “Home”. 

See more of his works here.

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Ray Maota