Goodman Gallery Cape Town is pleased to present A Quiet Stature, an exhibition highlighting mainly recent work from the late David Koloane. This show is a tribute to the artist at the third anniversary of his passing on 30 June 2019 and commemorates his skill and influence as a multidisciplinary artist whose work has made a profound impact on South Africa’s cultural landscape.
Koloane is held as an authority figure for African artists. This reverence stems from his dedication to his artistic practice as well as his other cultural endeavors including writing, curating and establishing spaces for artists of colour to be mentored and grow. Beyond these actions, his temperament empowered friendly engagements within the framework of his resoluteness.
Koloane in earlier years was an artist and writer full of righteous anger, expressing this sometimes harshly, with his ballpoint pen eventually tearing through his paper, or breaking pencils to put that feeling into drawings. Yet he generally spoke quietly, with an economy of words. He could be stern, voicing furious resistance to apartheid authoritarianism but maintained a gentle attitude to the people he dealt with and worked alongside. In his later years, Koloane was still the man of righteous anger, the champion of human rights for all, a voice for the disadvantaged. He became a respected elder who used his art and writings to promote those rights, demand greater understanding of the other, demanding better from those in power.
This exhibition brings into focus his typical subjects - now always associated with his social concerns -and turns his lens onto the marginalised Black communities in and around South African cities. In hiswork we see an idiosyncratic take on African expressionism take centre stage with political contentand everyday urban existence coming to life in paintbrush strokes, charcoal swirls and animatedvideo work. In working to reveal the rhythm of life for those struggling to live, Koloane did not depict glamour in pretty colours, but revealed strength and courage in adversity with music or celebrations which sometimes broke the gloom.
A Quiet Stature includes a selection of never before seen works, including his 2019 single channel animated video Something out of Nothing, which accompanies works such as Hillbrow Hustle (2011) and Doves (2008) allowing viewers an expansive understanding of Koloane in his later years. The show also includes an iconic historical work, Scavengers II (1993), which has only been viewed publicly once before.
A Quiet Stature offers a moment to bring Koloane back to the forefront of public memory and presents an opportunity to visually encounter his progression from a man of turbulent anger to one of patience and calm resolve.
David Koloane (1938-2019) was born in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Throughout his life, he worked as an artist, writer, curator, educator and mentor to fellow artists, creating art and encouraging art-making without the usual avenues of approach.
Koloane co-founded and helped run several major arts spaces in Johannesburg, which were committed to ensuring safe spaces for Black artists to work and share ideas. In 1977 he helped to establish The Gallery, which was the first Black owned and run art gallery in the country. In 1979 Koloane co-founded the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) and was the first curator of the FUBA Gallery from 1985-1990. In 1985 he co-founded the Thupelo experimental workshops series and, in 1991, co-founded The Bag Factory Artists’ Studios, where he served as director and board member. As a member of the Triangle network, The Bag Factory remains a globally significant space for residencies and exchange programmes across continents.
Shortly before Koloane’s passing in 2019, the lziko South African National Gallery in Cape Town held a major survey of his work, titled A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane. Curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, this major exhibition later travelled to the Standard Bank Gallery and Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg where it was re-titled Chronicles of a Resilient Visionary. This exhibition is also the subject of a major publication with that title, supported by Standard Bank, released the following year.
Significant international moments include representing South Africa at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Koloane’s work has also been included in the following international group exhibitions: Liberated Voices (1999) at the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC; My Joburg (2013) at La Maison Rouge in Paris; PANGAEA: New Art from Africa and Latin America (2014) at Saatchi Gallery in London.
Koloane’s work is included in several international collections, including Centre Pompidou, Perez Miami Art Museum, Collection of Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Prince Claus Fund and the Louis Vuitton Foundation Collection. In 2012, Koloane was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from The University of the Witwatersrand, followed by another from Rhodes University in 2015. In 1998, he received the Prince Claus Fund Award in the Netherlands for his contributions to South African art.
From 1983-1985, Koloane had a British Council scholarship and attended Birmingham Polytechnic. He later completed a diploma in Museum Studies at the University of London.