Kapwani Kiwanga
Alexis Preller: Mythical Lexicon

Galleries 2-8

30 November 2023 – 25 November 2024


Alexis Preller: Mythical Lexicon revisits a substantial body of Preller’s work, enabling viewers to understand its symbolic and fugue-like nature. Its haunting, dreamlike images reappear over a lifetime, each repetition reconsidered and distilled, evoking a different and poetic order.

Alexis Preller’s work is autobiographical on one hand, mythical and layered culturally transformative on the other. Solitary in nature, he worked in relative isolation, but his travels and continued interest in the art of other cultures sustained him and shaped his work. Deeply influenced by unknown artists across cultures and centuries, he drew on the hieratic traditions of Greece, Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. His art, steeped in complex quotations of the past, does not fit comfortably into the artistic categories of his time or within the constraints and conventions of his home country, South Africa.

Norval Foundation would like to thank the lenders, museums and collections for their generosity in contributing to this exhibition. They are listed here with thanks, in the following order: museums, then private collections: Pretoria Art Museum, City of Tshwane Collection; WITS Art Museum; South African National Gallery; Tatham Art Gallery; University of Pretoria Museums; the Homestead Collection, The Kilbourn Collection; Berman Collection; Van Der Spuy Collection; Wilbur Smith Collection; The Louw Collection; and those lenders who wish to remain anonymous.

With thanks also to Frank Kilbourn, Bina Genovese, Alistair Meredith and Marion Dixon for their continued support in sourcing and valuing the artworks for the exhibition. Thank you especially for the generous sponsorship of the insurance of selected works.

The Preller Archive, housed at Norval Foundation, has been a rich resource in the development of this exhibition. The research and writings of Esmé Berman have been invaluable in informing and collating the biographical curation of Alexis Preller: Mythical Lexicon.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Burroughs, Heba El Kayal and Ally Martinez for their meticulous editorial skills.

Installation photography: Mike Hall