ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: ATHI-PATRA RUGA | The Royal Portfolio
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6 April2020

by Nicole Sorour

The Silo Hotel's Art Concierge Irene Boaventura discusses the work of Athi-Patra Ruga.

As the world attempts to navigate the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 we wanted to share some insights into the work of some remarkable young African artists whose pieces are displayed at The Silo Hotel. The Silo Hotel has over 300 pieces of contemporary African art. The Biden family have carefully curated the collection in collaboration with a number of local art galleries. The intention is that it should be in-keeping with that of Zeitz MOCAA below.

Because all of the art is contemporary, many of the artists are young and looking to make a name for themselves both locally and internationally. The Silo Hotel provides a wonderful showcase for this young talent and provides an opportunity for our guests to get to know some of the amazing creativity found in Africa. Our first Artist Spotlight introduced the bold and vibrant work of Jody Paulsen. A Capetonian artist who has been creating felt collages since a young age, a means of expression he has always been drawn to.

Our second Artist Spotlight introduces South African artist Athi-Patra Ruga. Exploring the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. His piece ‘The Night of The Long Knives #4’ hangs in The Silo Hotel Lobby on the ground floor. Our duty manager and art concierge, Irene Boaventura, loves nothing more than to take guests on tailored art tours. While Irene isn’t able to do that right now, we thought she could share some of her insights into Athi-Patra Ruga and his artwork digitally.

Born in Umtata, South Africa, in 1984, Athi-Patra Ruga lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humour, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition, but is increasingly becoming a hybrid construct. A Utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft, gender and fine art.

Athi-Patra Ruga is represented by WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery. His works form part of many private, public and museum collections across South Africa and abroad, including Zeitz MOCAA’s permanent collection.

In December 2019, Athi-Patra Ruga collaborated with Dior and customised the iconic Lady Dior bag. The collaboration formed part of Dior’s fourth edition of the Lady Art project – a game of metamorphosis which pays tribute to femininity’s multiple nature. Eleven artists from across the globe were invited to reinterpret the bag, a design that is so timeless and quintessentially Dior, into a distinctive piece of art. Athi-Patra Ruga contributed two bags to the collection, each highlighting his unique universe and technical brilliance. Pearls, crystals, fabric, textured beading and embroidered flowers were used in his masterful designs.

Watch how Athi-Patra Ruga transformed the Lady Dior bag in the video below and follow The Silo Hotel’s Instagram account to be notified when our next Artist Spotlight goes live! 

Artwork by Athi-Patra Ruga

Images courtesy of Athi-Patra Ruga and WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery. Video courtesy of Dior.

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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: JODY PAULSEN
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