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Achmat Soni’s artworks take centre stage at 'Islamic Art – An African Interpretation' exhibition

Installation shot of ’Islamic Art – An African Interpretation’ currently on exhibition at the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum. Picture: Nigel Pamplin

Installation shot of ’Islamic Art – An African Interpretation’ currently on exhibition at the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum. Picture: Nigel Pamplin

Published Feb 8, 2022


The iconic Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum, in collaboration with the South African Foundation for Islamic Art (Safia) recently launched a new exhibition of Islamic art, titled “Islamic Art – An African Interpretation”.

The “Islamic Art-An African Interpretation” is the first of a series of exhibitions at the Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum aimed at reimagining and repositioning this mid-18th century home.

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In bringing together the work of artists from various backgrounds, this exhibition seeks to celebrate the diversity of Islam, who “we are as a people of Africa, and constitutes an unequivocal statement: that ’we disavow that our Africanness be defined by our race, religion, gender or historical origins”.

Curated by Annelize Kotze, the exhibition showcases the works of South African Islamic artists, including world-renowned artist and original founder of Safia, Achmat Soni.

With a career spanning over four decades, Soni has painted the domes and mihrabs of over 70 mosques in South Africa. He has painted more than 1 000 Islamic artworks across the country.

Soni's artworks are also displayed in many of the South African Muslim communities’ homes, as well as in the Malaysian Islamic Art Museum and the University of Iran.

“After my first international exhibition in Pakistan, I realised that we have to create, like all other countries, our own identity. I, therefore, included Ndebele designs with the acerbic script.

“This change in my art will take time to be accepted, but it is very important for all of us as South Africans,” said Soni.

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Achmat Soni, Ayatul Qursi (Verse of The Throne). Acrylic on canvas, African Design. Picture: Supplied

“I have been doing Islamic art since 1982. I became Inspired on a Thursday evening whilst reciting the Qur’an. My first painting of Surah Fatihah still hangs in my house today.

“I do not have any formal training and am completely self-taught. By the Grace of the Almighty, I am still on this journey and make Duah that I will be granted many more years In Shaa Allah,” he added.

Through his dedication to his craft and the community, he has taught Islamic art to many aspiring artists.

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“I founded Safia in 1989 and the organisation has grown into a space for artists wanting and needing to explore their artistic abilities, Alhamdulillah.

“I have been invited to many local and international exhibitions over the years and received many accolades for my work. It is now time to hand over the younger generations.”

Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum is situated in the historic area that became home to many Muslims and freed slaves after the abolition of slavery, showcasing local Islamic culture and heritage.

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Other artists who are exhibiting their works at the “Islamic Art – An African Interpretation” exhibition include Shanawaaz Salie Atika Plato-Hoosen, Raffiq Desai, Safeyah Samuels, Ismail Ebrahim, Farieda Salie, Zaitoon Ebrahim and Galiema Dalvie.

The “Islamic Art – An African Interpretation” exhibition will run until March 31 at the Iziko Bo- Kaap Museum.

The museum is open Mondays to Saturdays between 9.30am and 3.30pm.

For more information click here.

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