b. 1974, Bethal, South Africa.
Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Usha Seejarim is best known for her reinterpretation of ordinary and domestic objects. Making use of common materials such as safety pins, wooden pegs, irons and brooms, her work has a distinctly Dadaist influence. Her compositions result from repetitive acts of mark making – alluding to themes related to time, chance, space and displacement.
Usha Seejarim was born in 1974 in Bethal, South Africa. Seejarim received a B-Tech Degree in Fine Art from the University of Johannesburg in 1999 and a Master’s Degree in Fine Art at the University of The Witwatersrand (WITS) in 2008 – both in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she currently lives and works.
Solo exhibitions and presentations include: Keepers of the Common at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018; Reasons for descending the staircase at Fried Contemporary in Pretoria, South Africa in 2017; Venus at Home – a travelling exhibition presented at the Durban Art Gallery, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa; NWU Gallery at the Northwest University in Potchefstroom, South Africa; the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) in Johannesburg, South Africa and the Atherstone Gallery at National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa (2012-2015); and Mine over Matter in 2009 and The Hole Truth in 2006, both at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg, South Africa respectively.
Seejarim has been included in many group exhibitions which include: The Red Hour curated by Simon Njami, for the Dak’Art: African Contemporary Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal in 2018; Twenty: Art in the Time of Democracy, a travelling exhibition, curated by Gordon Froud and presented at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Turchin Centre in Boone, USA and the Beijing Biennale in Beijing, China in 2015; Where do we migrate to? at the University of Maryland in Baltimore, USA in 2011; Another World, curated by Simon Njami for the 6th African Encounters of Photography in Bamako, Mali in 2005; How Latitudes become Forms curated by Philippe Vergne, Douglas Fogle & Olukemi Ilesanm and presented at Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin, Italy, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Internacional Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey, Mexico and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, USA. Fresh in 2001 and Isinto, curated by Tumelo Mosaka and Zayd Minty, in 1999 at IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa respectively.
Seejarim has completed numerous public commissions, namely: the public portrait for Nelson Mandela’s funeral in Qunu, South Africa in 2013; Figures Representing Articles From The Freedom Charter in 2008 in, Soweto, South Africa; and artwork for the facade of the South African Chancery in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2008) amongst others.
Awards include: the SCAC Marestaing & The Secular Solidarity Association Sculpture Award at the Dak’Art: African Contemporary Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal and the Tommorow’s/ Today Prize, at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, South Africa, both in 2018; the Ampersand Fellowship Award, New York City, USA in 2003 and the inaugural MTN New Contemporaries Exhibition Award (joint-winner) in 2001, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Seejarim’s work forms part of public and private collections such as the Iziko South African National Gallery (SANG), Cape Town, South Africa; the South African Foundation For Contemporary Art (SAFFCA), South Africa; the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), Johannesburg, South Africa and the Fondazione Fiera Milan, Italy.
Usha Seejarim was selected to partake in an exhibition celebrating FUBA at Keyes Art Mile. The exhibition features selected alumni and is supported by Friends of the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the United States Embassy.
Ongoing group exhibitions include The Art of Lithography: A Collaborative Expression of LL Editions which runs until January 2019 at the Wits Art Museum.
In early November Seejarim presented an artist talk on Mistress Pieces: Iconic Artworks by Feminists and Gender Activists, at University of Johannesburg.
Usha Seejarim is the recipient of this year’s prestigious Dak’Art Biennale Sculpture Prize, and was awarded the Tomorrow’s/Today Prize for her installation, Keepers of the Common at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2018.