14 May 2024 | Story ANTHONY MTHEMBU | Photo Supplied
Ibrahim Mahama
Contemporary artist Ibrahim Mahama engaging with students during his visit to the Department of Fine Arts at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Ghanaian contemporary artist, Ibrahim Mahama, visited the Department of Fine Arts at the University of the Free State (UFS) to share insights with staff and students during his stay in the country.

Dr Adelheid Von Maltitz, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Arts at the UFS, highlighted the significance of Mahama’s visit which took place from 21 to 28 March 2024, marking the first instance of such interaction between a Fine Arts department in South Africa and Mahama. She remarked, “It is truly astounding that a person of his calibre dedicated time to focus on our department, and I believe this has catalysed a positive shift within our department.”

Mahama’s impactful presence at UFS

Dr Von Maltitz emphasised that Mahama’s visit aimed to offer staff and students a glimpse into his artistic process and mindset. During his time at the UFS, Mahama, who was virtually overseeing his latest recent large-scale artwork titled Purple Hibiscus, which involved wrapping the Barbican Centre in London, engaged extensively with staff and students from the department about their research. He shared insights into his creative journey, presented select works, and conducted critique sessions with fourth year and postgraduate students, among other activities. Dr Von Maltitz believes this interaction, particularly with students, has significantly bolstered their confidence as aspiring artists, preparing them for professional endeavours.

Broader implications and future prospects

Mahama’s visit not only energised the department’s academic environment but also holds broader implications. Dr Von Maltitz asserted that it will solidify the department’s identity nationally and create avenues for students to pursue residencies in countries like Ghana. Therefore, maintaining a fruitful relationship with Mahama remains a priority for the department.

Reflecting on the visit Dr Von Maltitz concluded, ‘’the key takeaway, especially for the students, was witnessing the potential of their works within the broader South African and international contexts. “ 

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