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Walter Battiss • Deborah Bell • Lisa Brice • Bongiwe Dhlomo-Mautloa • Dumile Feni • Kendell Geers • David Goldblatt • Robert Hodgins • William Kentridge • Sydney Kumalo • David Koloane • Judith Mason • Kagiso Patrick Mautloa • Ezrom Legae • Sam Nhlengethwa • Walter Oltmann • Tracey Rose • Cecily Sash • Cyprian Shilakoe • Cecil Skotnes • Penny Siopis • Clive van den Berg • Edoardo Villa • Jeremy Wafer • Sue Williamson   

Goodman Gallery is pleased to present Lasting Influences, a group exhibition featuring selected works by historically important artists who have worked with the gallery since its founding in 1966 through to the early 2000’s. 

There is no single element that determines the lasting influence of an artist. In certain instances, this importance comes through an academic career in which the artist transfers skills and ideas to others. Other artists capture the public’s imagination with their original, unusual or controversial work. Over time these artists — the lecturer seen as too exacting and strict, the artist who achieves quick success, the controversial artist who once shocked us — shift discourse and come to cement their place in the art history of our culture. 

The selected artists all satisfy these conditions in some way or another. Their names command respect, critical acclaim, academic study, and investor interest because their legacies continue to exert influence on the audience of our time. 

Lasting Influences examines these enduring legacies by presenting important examples of the artist’s works. This includes, among others, sculptures and tapestry works by Cecil Skotnes, Edoardo Villa and Kendell Geers; drawings by Dumile Feni, William Kentridge, Walter Battiss and Ezrom Legae; as well as paintings by David Koloane, Robert Hodgins, Deborah Bell, Sam Nhlengethwa, Lisa Brice and Penny Siopis. Many of the works will be shown for the first time in decades or enjoying their first public exhibition.

The period that marks many of the exhibited works’ creation is defined in art historical terms as Modernism. However, this was also a time in which South African fine art was altered by notions of what modern Contemporary Art would become. Changes in media, materials and the rise of a more African voice in international discourse all played a part in an exciting wave of new shifts in the appreciation of art which engaged with the times, the politics, and the diversity of culture. 

Living or deceased, the artists in this exhibition have all endured as powerful visual influencers through to the present.

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Co-operators and Collaborators

The Amadlozi Group

Giuseppe Cattaneo, Sydney Kumalo, Ezrom Legae, Cecily Sash, Cecil Skotnes, Edoardo Villa.

Amadlozi is an isiZulu word which translates most accurately to “the spirits of the dead”. It was adopted as the shared name by this associated group of artists as “the spirits of our ancestors”, acknowledging the shared heritage of all humankind, in our most ancient African hominid ancestry, and endorsing the idea of unity in diversity. This group of artists exhibited with private dealer Egon Guenther’s well respected Linksfield, Johannesburg gallery in the 1950’s and 60’s. Later in the 1960’s onward all of these artists exhibited with the Goodman Gallery, with group presentations in 1973, 1979, 1985 and 1987 prior to a major tour in the USA that year, exhibiting in a number of cities with the Circle Fine Arts group of galleries.

Ezrom Legae (1938 - 1999)

Ezrom Legae was a prominent South African mid-century sculptor and painter. The artist was born in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, and grew up in Soweto once apartheid legislation forced his famiy out of the city.  Legae began drawing at a young age, and went on to study at the Polly Street Art and Jubilee Art Centres under Cecil Skotnes and Sydney Kumalo. Upon Kumalo’s retirement as an educator in 1964, Legae became the art instructor at the Jubilee Art Centre, where he would later become the Co-Director.

Legae focused on documenting the everyday realities of township life, pushing his students and fellow artists to stop appealing to Western sensibilities and perceptions. Legae believed in using art to express and to preserve Black consciousness. In 1970, the artist was awarded a travel scholarship sponsored by USSALEP and visited the United States and Europe. 

 

Ezrom Legae (head)

Ezrom Legae

Untitled (Head), c. 1967

Terrazzo

31.5 x 14.5 x 20 cm

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Legae’s first solo exhibition was held at Egon Guenther Gallery in 1966, and he was first invited to take part in a museum exhibition the following year, exhibiting two bronzes and two drawings in the 1967 Art SA Today show at Durban Art Gallery. His Chicken Series drawings exhibition at Goodman Gallery in 1978 drew much attention, first from the State Security apparatus who wanted the exhibition shut down, as the works were indeed a metaphor for the growth of revolutionary outrage which had followed the assassination of Steve Biko in 1977, but then also from the public when a judge decreed that there was no quoting of the banned late leader, nor images which obviously represented him, and threw out the request for banning the exhibit. The series sold very well.

 

Ezrom Legae XII

Ezrom Legae

Untitled XII (18), 1994

Ink And Conte

15 x 18.5 cm (5.9 x 7.1 in)

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Ezrom Legae December

Ezrom Legae

December 94 (12), 1994

Ink And Oil Wash

14.5 x 18.5 cm (5.5 x 7.1 in)

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Legae served as director of the art programme at African Music and Drama Association Art Project (ADMA), from 1972 to 1974, and an instructor at The Federated Union of Black Artists Arts Centre (FUBA)in 1980.

Notably, in 1979, Legae won the Honourable Mention for Drawing at the Valparaiso Biennale in Chile. Through the 1980’s he exhibited and travelled in South Africa, Botswana, West Germany and in Switzerland on the Art Basel Fair with Goodman Gallery. He also was a featured artist on the exhibition Amadlozi - the Spirit of our Ancestors, with Cecil Skotnes , Sydney Kumalo and Edoardo Villa, which travelled from Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg to New York and three other cities in the USA with the Circle Fine Art Gallery group. Legae died in Soweto in January 1999 following a protracted illness. He was lauded and mourned as one of the giants of sculpture in the country’s art history. 

 

Sydney Kumalo (1935 – 1988)

Sydney Kumalo was born in Sophiatown, the great melting pot district of Johannesburg in 1935, where a vibrant community thrived before apartheid laws, and saw integrated lifestyles for people who had common interests, regardless of colour and race. His family was among those forcibly removed from Sophiatown, and he was schooled at Madibane High School, Diepkloof after the family moved to Soweto. His talent saw him become a renowned and respected artist – painter and draughtsman, but sometimes nicknamed the “father of Soweto sculpture”.

Kumalo attended the Polly Street Art Centre, famed as a non-racial place of artistic learning, and was mentored by Cecil Skotnes. Kumalo and Skotnes were later colleagues at Polly Street and the Jubilee Art Centre. It was at Polly Street that Kumalo and Skotnes first met visiting gallerist Egon Guenther and were later invited to be represented by his gallery. At 20, Kumalo was offered the chance to share Villa’s studio and access the facilities to build his sculptures. Like David Koloane, Ezrom Legae, Cecil Skotnes and Bongiwe Dhlomo, Kumalo was an artist who got opportunities, commissions and support for a growing career, but also worked hard teaching and passing all he could do on to inspire the new generation of young Black South Africans who followed in his footsteps. He believed in finding an African voice for participation in the international modern and contemporary movements in art, and was determined to find ways to foster connections between African artists and counterparts abroad; but also to proudly represent African culture, tradition and histories in the wider world’s debates on image making.

Sydney Kumalo anguished angel

Sydney Kumalo

Anguished Angel, 1973

Bronze

96 x 38 x 33.5 cm (37.8 x 15 x 13 in)

Edition 1 of 5

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This particular form was realised in bronze as a unique work, commissioned by a European financier who had a home in Johannesburg for much of the 1970’s and 80’s. The bronze and a sepia drawing after the female figure was cast, returned to Europe with the collector in 1985.  

The bronze Anguished Angel is a classic example of the great sculptor’s work. Its stance and standing support both reference the bible story of angels on the head of a pin. Its wings are diminished and folded while its arms are thrown up, but this is an anguished protest, not defeat and surrender and is one of a group of sculptures which echo this call to God to free his people and liberate South Africa.

The bronze was cast in the Vignali Foundry in Pretoria North in 1973, exhibited at Goodman Gallery that year and sold from the exhibition to a private collector, it's only prior owner. Anguished Angel has not been publicly exhibited since 1973. 

Sydney Kumalo studies

Sydney Kumalo

Studies for Sculpture: Reclining Female Form, 1982

Charcoal and pastel on paper

38.5 x 55 cm

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From his first solo show in 1962 onward, Kumalo had works sold into museum collections from every exhibition. Kumalo won the 1960 Artist of Fame and Promise Award, and in 1981 the SA Institute of Race relations Award. He moved from the Egon Guenther Gallery to Goodman Gallery, with whom he held solo shows as well as exhibiting and travelling for shows in Europe and the USA with the Amadlozi Group. This included visiting the Grosvenor Gallery in London, where he first met Linda Goodman when she worked for its founder Eric Estorick. The Amadlozi Group had all had exposure in London with Grosvenor Gallery in the early 1960’s through Guenther.

Kumalo was introduced by Guenther, Villa, Estorick and others in England to Henry Moore and got to know his works and those of Brancusi, Marini, Hepworth, Chadwick and Caro. He was impressed with both West African and European Modernist works and influenced by these in his own flowing human figures and textured angular animal forms. Expressive figures with abstracted curved lines and mythological characters, both animal and human, from ancient oral traditions, became favoured subjects and recognisably his own work incorporating the multiple references.

Kumalo exhibited works at the Biennales of Venice (1965) and Sao Paulo (1968) and was a guest of the USSSALEP leadership exchange in New York in 1979. He visited and exhibited in Germany, on the Art Basel Fair and in a touring show in the USA with Goodman Gallery through the 1980’s. He died after a sudden brief illness in 1988, in Johannesburg. 

 

Cecil Skotnes (1926 - 2009) 

Cecil Skotnes was a South African artist, teacher and mentor. In 1952, Skotnes became the Cultural Relations Officer at the Polly Street Art Centre - an establishment that was situated on the border of two racially segregated suburbs. Skotnes’ mission was to encourage creativity and to nurture the talents and skills among young Black artists and artists of colour, particularly in spaces where the apartheid government had intentionally excluded creative opportunity.

Producing sculpture, printmaking, murals, installations, panels and totems, Skotnes went on to represent South Africa at the Venice Biennale in 1966 and 1968. The artist also represented the nation in several Sao Paulo Biennale exhibitions (1957, 1959, 1961, 1967 and 1971). 

 

 

Cecil skotnes - totems

Cecil Skotnes

Totems - diptych, c. 1987

Pigments on incised wood panels; diptych

100 x 22 x 3.3 cm (39.4 x 8.7 x 1.2 in)

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Notable projects included his three-colour woodcut for a Nobel Prize portfolio in honour of South African Nobel Prize winner, Albert Luthuli, as well as his 1820 Settlers’ panels installed in the Fountain Foyer in the Monument building in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown). Skotnes was commissioned on numerous occasions for public and religious sites; both he and fellow Amadlozi Group member, Sydney Kumalo, produced unforgettable commissions for the Regina Mundi church in Soweto.

Cecil Skotnes’ contribution to South African art through the promotion of creativity and diversity resulted in his being awarded honorary degrees by the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, and Rhodes University. In 2003, State President Thabo Mbeki presented Skotnes with a gold medal for his service to the South African nation through his contribution to the deracialisation of art.

 

Notable projects included his three-colour woodcut for a Nobel Prize portfolio in honour of South African Nobel Prize winner, Albert Luthuli, as well as his 1820 Settlers’ panels installed in the Fountain Foyer in the Monument building in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown). Skotnes was commissioned on numerous occasions for public and religious sites; both he and fellow Amadlozi Group member, Sydney Kumalo, produced unforgettable commissions for the Regina Mundi church in Soweto.

Cecil Skotnes’ contribution to South African art through the promotion of creativity and diversity resulted in his being awarded honorary degrees by the University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand, and Rhodes University. In 2003, State President Thabo Mbeki presented Skotnes with a gold medal for his service to the South African nation through his contribution to the deracialisation of art.

This exhibition features  a diptych of his iconic Totems with pigments on incised wood, and the tapestry One Eyed Cat. This edition of the large scale mohair weaving by the Marguerite Stephens Tapestry Studio is based on one of Skotnes’ best known images - a woodcut print made in 1960, which has been cited as an inspiration for cats which feature in Kentridge works.

Edoardo Villa (1915 - 2011)

Italian-born, South African master sculptor Edoardo Villa’s works draw on the elements of an abstract language from the character of the surrounding natural scene, speaking convincingly of the experience of Africa. His work also explores the human form and condition, as well as the technological transformation that was overtaking modern life in the 1960s.

 

 

Eduardo Villa Afro

Edoardo Villa

Afro, 1993

Steel, paint

53 x 23.5 x 23cm (20.9 x 9.1 x 9 in)

Edition 6 of 9

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Villa is often referred to, as one of the most important sculptors in the South African art canon and his work is present in institutions across the country. Villa’s work beautifully expresses his uncompromising humanism in virile male presences and sensuous female figures rendered with a lover’s touch. Throughout  his artistic journey he leavened earnest themes with lightness, interspersed declamatory public statements with intimate domestic whispers. 

Eduardo villa smoley

Edoardo Villa

Smoley, (A.P.), 1987

Steel, paint

66 x 36 x 36 cm (26 x 14.2 x 14.2 in)

AP from an Edition of 9

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Villa’s use of Cubist and Constructivist techniques and his creative use of steel, exploring the possibilities of bent and welded metal, characterised his “break with descriptive conventions”. In line with Cubism, he became interested in traditional African sculpture, and a “new formal language” that appreciated the geometric forms in much African sculpture (Maurice and Dodd, 2009). During the 1960’s, Villa’s work engaged in a “dialogue between constructed steel and sculpture modeled for casting”. 

Villa’s work featured on the Sao Paolo Biennale and he had the honour of representing South Africa at the Venice Biennale multiple times. 

 

BELL HODGINS KENTRIDGE

Deborah Bell, Robert Hodgins & William Kentridge

These three artists had an extraordinary and fruitful collaborative relationship. Great friends with their own successful solo careers, the three all worked with print studios, Marguerite Stephens and other artists. And so, perhaps, it’s no surprise that their friendships led to the making of such print series as Hogarth in Johannesburg, Little Morals, UBU: +/- 101 but also wonderful animated films from drawings by all three artists - in digital format in Easing the Passing (of the Hours) 1992/3 and in a film noir, darkly comic suite of animated charcoal and ink drawings for Hotel, 1997.

Bell Hodgins Kentridge memo
BELL HODGINS KENTRIDGE 
Memo, 1994

Single-channel Film

4 mins

Edition of 6

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The confessed favourite work of all three artists from these collaborations is the film Memo, 1993/4, shown on Lasting Influences. A satirical work, featuring Hodgins in pinstriped suit, is directed by Kentridge amid animations of drawings by the three collaborators. Hodgins is very convincing as a frantic businessman, whose world seems to be spinning out of his control.

 

 

 

Bell Hodgins Kentridge easing the passing of the hours

BELL HODGINS KENTRIDGE

From Easing the Passing (of the Hours), #1

(Bell, Hodgins and Kentridge in collaboration), 1992

Mixed media work on canvas

180 x 360 cm (70.9 x 141.7 in)

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Easing the Passing (of the Hours) is a digital film featuring a much wounded and decorated military man in a wheelchair. The character, who still seems pumped up by his Pyrrhic victories, is the source for Kentridge’s etching General (Yellow), and features in the large collaborative canvas by the same name as the video work. This three-metre wide painting and collage, made on canvas by the three artists together and signed by all three, is a wonderfully theatrical and colourful look at characters from the animation, inside a proscenium - as they might appear on a stage. Erasure marks clearly demonstrate how this work was used in making animation. The work has not been exhibited in the past 25 years and offers a rare view of the successful collaborative efforts by the three artists. 

Marguerite Stephens Tapestry Studio

 

Skotnes, Sash and Cattaneo also worked with poets such as Stephen Gray and Sinclair Beiles, with printmakers and most importantly for the first two, with tapestry weaver Marguerite Stephens who is herself a legend in South African fine art circles. Stephen’s grand mural scale, Gobelin-style loom weavings in mohair have been made with these artists over almost sixty years. Stephens has also notably worked in collaboration with Goodman Gallery artists Judith Mason, Walter Battiss, Sam Nhlengethwa and since the late 1990s, William Kentridge. 

The tapestries included in Lasting Influences are based on designs from Skotnes, Sash, Battiss and Mason

Judith Mason (1938 - 2016)

Judith Mason was a painter and graphic artist of symbolic and mythological landscapes, figures and portraits. Mason worked primarily in oils and pencil but also incorporated various graphic media and found objects into her work as well as having made a number of artist's books.

 "I paint in order to make sense of my life, to manipulate various chaotic fragments of information and impulse into some sort of order, through which I can glimpse a hint of meaning. I am an agnostic humanist possessed of religious curiosity who regards making artworks as akin to alchemy. To use inert matter on an inert surface to convey real energy and presence seems to me a magical and privileged way of living out my days," said Mason.

When thinking about tapestries and the translation of a painting into a woven form, Mason did not merely use an existing artwork as the starting point, but designed specifically with the weaving medium in mind. Marguerite Stephens served as a facilitator for Mason’s woven tapestries. Unusually, Mason did all the tasks of converting an artwork to a weaving, right up to the cartoon annotation (the last task before the actual weaving commences). Speaking about Mason’s process in the weaving studio, Stephen’s remarked: “Judith always gave her full attention to every tapestry we worked on; hers was an abnormal involvement by the artist”.

 

Judith Mason & Marguerite Stephens - The Lion "Roars himself Compleat"

Judith Mason & Marguerite Stephens 

The Lion "Roars himself Compleat", 2012/2019

Woven mohair

232 x 194 cm (91.3 x 76.4 in)

Edition 4 of 5

 

The lion roars himself compleat was one of the last tapestries that Mason worked on in the Stephens Tapestries Studios. Drawing inspiration from Christopher Smart’s Jubilate Agno, the tapestry is imbued with lyrical and poetic overtones. One of the most remarkable poetic talents of the century, Smart’s poetry often praises God’s creation in structures based on the antiphonal responses of Hebrew poetry.

The diction and imagery of these poems are extraordinarily rich combinations of scientific and biblical materials. The arrangement of Smart's Jubilate Agno focuses on the basic task that all creatures demonstrate the praise and adoration of their maker. Not surprisingly, the subjects touched upon include the connections between the human and animal spheres. Throughout the prose, both worlds are presented and the points where some common aspects appear highlighted.

Cecily Sash (1925 - 2019)

Cecily Sash was born in Delmas , South Africa in 1925, and was the only female founding member of the Amadlozi Group of artists, who took a principled public stand against apartheid policies while working with the Egon Guenther Gallery in the 1950’s. 

Following her studies with Maurice van Essche at the art school of the Witwatersrand Technical College, Sash excelled in degree studies in London, working with Henry Moore at Chelsea Polytechnic and Victor Pasmore at the Camberwell School of Art, University of London. She returned to teach in schools and at Wits University alongside Cecil Skotnes for almost 20 years, while pursuing a successful career with her paintings, drawings, tapestry works and mosaic murals. Sash favoured a partly abstracted style of African expressionism and shared a vision for a South African artistic identity with Kumalo and Skotnes in particular. She won several large-scale public commissions and exhibited on the Sao Paulo Biennale (1963 and 1967) and the Venice Biennale of 1964. She exhibited works with her Amadlozi fellow members (Skotnes, Cattaneo, Kumalo, Legae and Villa) at the Goodman Gallery in the late 1960’s and 1972/3.

 

Cecily Sash & Marguerite Stephens Abundance

Cecily Sash & Marguerite Stephens

Abundance, c.1970's/2015

Woven mohair

243 x 343 cm (95.7 x 135 in)

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Edition 1 of 6

 

Sash moved to settle and teach in Wales, from early 1974 onward, and continued painting, exhibiting in the UK, France, at the Florence Biennale by invitation, and in South Africa.  When she emigrated, she left two small colour drawings with friend and colleague, tapestry weaver Marguerite Stephens. The agreement was that these be used as tapestry designs to be woven in due time. They kept in touch and were amused that 40 years eventually elapsed before it was agreed to proceed. Only when her health began to fail in 2015 did Sash order the weaving, with the work Abundance being put on the loom, upscaled to around 2.5 by 3.5 metres from its original notebook page. 

This vibrantly toned abstracted landscape evokes African mountain country and is now exhibited on Lasting Influences. Stephens recalls the artist’s pleasure at seeing images of the completed work which would bear witness to her love of the countryside in South Africa. The tapestry has a label stitched to the verso, signed and titled by the artist before she died in 2019, also dated and inscribed with the names of Marguerite Stephens and her team of weavers.

Cecil skotnes & Marguerite Stephens

Marguerite Stephens & Cecil Skotnes

The One-Eyed cat, 1963/2020

Woven mohair

Work: 178 x 298 cm

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Edition 1 of 5

Battiss tapestry

Walter Battiss & Marguerite Stephens

Magic Spirit Birds (that grant desires), c.1969/ 2016

Woven mohair tapestry
228 x 306 cm (89.8 x 120.5 in.)
Edition 1 of 3

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Print Studios

Many of the artists who have worked with Goodman Gallery have also had well known collaborations with graphic print studios and master printers over the years. Ezrom Legae, David Koloane, Cecil Skotnes, Penny Siopis, Walter Battiss, Clive van den Berg, Robert Hodgins, Walter Oltmann, Kendell Geers, Judith Mason, Sam Nhlengethwa and William Kentridge have worked successfully in various original print media with Caversham Press, The Artists’ Press, Artist Proof Studio, David Krut Projects, Ernst de Jongh Studio and LL Editions. 

Robert Hodgins - Whistler's Grandmother

Robert Hodgins

Whistler's Grandmother, 2009

Oil monotype on archival paper

57 x 76.5 cm (22.4 x 29.9 in)

Monotype 1/1

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This exhibition features a Hodgins oil monotype titled Whistler’s Grandmother made with Mark Attwood of the Artists’ Press. The print depicts a wryly amusing, somewhat gentler, elderly lady, in a colourful dress, deftly drawn with great character in a medium which Hodgins often described as “teaching oneself to live with the Happy Accident which frequently occurred in the image as one printed it off!”

Hodgins remarked of the great Whistler portrait that it was “a masterpiece but really fearfully gloomy! It occurred to me that the family would have needed cheering up and perhaps felt amused at the idea that granny was a bit of a good time gal!”

Kendell Geers - koons

Kendell Geers

Untitled (Koons - New Shelton, Wet/Dry), 1995

Monoprint reproduction

86.5 x 116 cm (33.9 x 45.7 in)

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William Kentridge - Genral Yellow

William Kentridge

General (Yellow), 1993 - 1998

Etching and hand colouring

140 x 98.5 cm (55.1 x 38.6 in)

AP from an Edition of 35

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There is also a hand-coloured major etching by William Kentridge, General, 1998, editioned by the late UK master printer Jack Shireff of 107 Workshop for Krut Projects. This figure of a monocled and uniformed General originated in the digital video work Easing the Passing (of the Hours), directed by Kentridge, working with Deborah Bell and Robert Hodgins. 

William Kentridge - my dear friend

William Kentridge

My dear friend (He that fled his fate) – Mbinda Cemetery, 1994

Silkscreen on paper in 6 colours

64 x 76.5 cm (25.2 x 29.9 in)

Edition 41 of 55

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Also on exhibit is the Kentridge screenprint from Caversham Press, My dear friend (He that fled his fate). This print image relates to work for the staging of his play, Faustus in Africa.

Walter Battiss

Walter Battiss, aka Walter Whall Battiss (the artist’s full name), WB, WWB, BATT-155 (he often signed works with just these initials or alphanumeric key), the Gentle Anarchist (so nicknamed by biographers, curators and friends), King Ferd III of Fook Island (self-declared monarch of a fantastical island), or just King! Nothing about Battiss was commonplace or would be the same at one’s next encounter. Born in 1906 in a small Karoo town, Somerset East, this most inventive, polymath, daring, outrageous but delightful academic, mentor, teacher, artist in every medium ever thought about, writer and art historian. left a legacy which shall no doubt last into the 22nd Century.

 

Walter Battiss began his career as as teacher at Park school in Turffontein Johannesburg and from 1936 was art master at Pretoria Boys’ High School for almost 3 decades. He first travelled to Europe in 1938 and was an avid traveller and cultural tourist forever afterward. He once said he had begun a love affair with the art museums of the world, in Europe. His marriage to Grace Anderson, who dabbled in watercolours but was well-known as an arts education expert and theorist on linking memory and learning with visual culture, was to have a profound effect on his work, widening the scope of the artist's style, subjects and choice of mediums. Grace and Walter would live a life of tolerance, liberal principles, determined resistance to conservatism and disregard for traditional rules and mores. As his reputation as an artist grew, Battiss more frequently favoured rebelling against the expected, delivering his works with surprise, change and constant renewal.

 

Walter Battiss | cat & bird

Walter Battiss

Untitled (Cat stalking bird, diptych), 1970

Ink on paper, 2 sheets

80 x 128 cm (31.5 x 50.4 in)

Work (each): 80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Sometimes bemused, frequently shocked, occasionally politically challenged and constantly socially dared, his audience was never bored and his fame spread easily as he travelled and encountered an array of intellectuals, celebrities and international artists who often had also rocked their worlds. By the time he was a university professor, with beret, long white hair, long white beard, and sometimes wearing a  golden crown and long robes, Battiss was a cult figure.

He had a reputation for shocking political conservatives, protesting any form of censorship, promoting nudist free love and lifestyle, but also for mentoring many young artists, maintaining high standards of work and innovation in his style and mediums of production, and being a serious artist with a wickedly satirical sense of humour.

 

Walter battiss curious creature

Walter Battiss

Untitled (curious creatures), 1970

Ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Walter Battiss mielie eater

Walter Battiss

Untitled (mielie eater), 1970

Ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Battiss admired and studied ancient African rock art and published widely on San Bushman art, and increasingly brought African mythologies and art forms into his own visual language. He spent months living among the Bushmen in Namibia. After several college diplomas, he did complete a degree at UNISA in Fine Arts in 1941, and by 1952 lectured on South African art by invitation at the University of London.

During a stint working in London, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts In 1964. Battiss was appointed the first professor and head of department in both Fine Arts and Art History at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and founded the journal De Arte, from which he retired in 1971. Nonetheless, he remained an active emeritus lecturer and as a guest examiner at a number of institutions. 

 

Walter Battiss - two persons with a cat

Walter Battiss

Two Persons Walking their Cat, 1970

Ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Walter Battiss - Untitled (No Yes, Yes No), 1970

Walter Battiss

Untitled (No Yes, Yes No), 1970

Ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Battiss left many lives enriched by his teaching and his books and art journal. He captivated his public and acquired loyal followers and collectors, right to the present day. He produced a prodigious body of island life watercolours, calligraphic engravings, bright silkscreen prints which were extremely popular, abstract and expressionist works on canvas, and painted invented fantasy fauna and flora of Fook Island together with Norman Catherine and his wife Janet Catherine. Much of this work was exhibited during the period from 1969 to the early 1980’s at Goodman Gallery. 

 

Walter Battiss - Untitled (No Yes, large profile under clasped hands)

Walter Battiss

Untitled (No Yes, large profile under clasped hands), 1970

ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Battiss grew in prominence, exhibiting in exhibitions on South African Art and with The New Group, and also with solo presentations,  at the Venice and Sao Paulo Biennales, more than once; winning medals at the International Olympiads of Art, exhibiting in museum shows in many countries and at the Tate Gallery. Equally impressive to the artist were discoveries on his travels in the Middle East, Greece and its many islands, and later the Polynesian islands of the Pacific Ocean. On his travels he met Pablo Picasso more than once and swapped works with him in Picasso’s studio.  He pioneered serigraphy (silkscreen art printing) in South Africa, brought pop art and street photography into his work and curricula, but also relished elements of Ndebele art, traditional African beadworks from around the continent, and carved his own interpretations of African fetish figures. 

 

Walter battiss - Untitled (No Yes, hand over hand, below profile)

Walter Battiss

Untitled (No Yes, hand over hand, below profile), 1970

ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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His collaborations were many, with the Catherines and writers, poets and academics on his Fook alphabet, language, and other concepts. He had many works reinterpreted by Marguerite Stephens in loom woven mohair tapestries and enjoyed designing for this medium. One of those designs from 1969, is Magic Spirit Birds (that grant desires), which relates to a Bushman fable and also to his romantic ideals for Fook culture. The weaver has beautifully incorporated his musing pencil notes to her about how to use the design, into its margins.

The series of ink drawings, long held by the artist’s family in a large pad of drawing paper, have never been exhibited. They are amusing, intriguing and speak of his pop sensibilities back in 1970. One could imagine some of the “curious creatures” being at home on Fook Island. Most works in the long series (of which 9 are exhibited) are initialled WB and dated 70, but some indicate that the group of over 20 drawings were done in January and February 1970. The No Yes, Yes No suite of drawings, some in brush and ink, some in felt pen, or black inkpen, all feature contorted and scrambled human forms, mostly female and with speech bubbles reading “No Yes”.

 

Walter Battiss - Untitled (No Yes, face through crossed legs), 1970

Walter Battiss

Untitled (No Yes, full face over folded legs), 1970

ink on paper, unsigned, provenance from artist's estate

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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There is an often repeated story which may or may not be an urban legend, of a meeting between Battiss, the iconic eccentric professor, with an uncle of Linda (Goodman) Givon, the well-known yogi and yoga teaching master, Mani Finger, himself an eccentric and well loved figure. They had parked their respective and very different Rolls Royce cars next to one another at Goodman Gallery’s car park, arriving for a pavement art festival one Saturday. Linda joined them as they discussed the merits of Rolls Royce. Walter Battiss with robe and crown as King Ferd revealed that he drove his now colourfully painted car everywhere, even offroad in the Limpopo bushveld and believed no other car would cope with what he put his trusty Rolls through! Yogi Mani Finger, in kaftan and clay beads with sandals, was by now sitting in the lotus position on a bench and replied that he almost never drove himself any more as his legs were withering from many years spent mostly sitting in the lotus position. However, he enjoyed being driven in his car, still immaculate in white, as the rear seat was wide enough to be comfortable to sit in that way and the car quiet enough to meditate in, while on the road. 

Walter Battiss - Untitled (No Yes, face through crossed legs), 1970

Walter Battiss

Untitled (No Yes, looking through crossed legs), 1970

ink on paper

80 x 64 cm (31.5 x 25.2 in)

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Givon recounted that they chatted amicably until Mani Finger invited Walter Battiss to join his yoga school classes saying he felt sure Walter would enjoy it. Raising first his left, then his right hand by turns, Battiss replied “well, I can easily weigh that up for you ... No, yes, no, yes, yes, NO!” ending with his right hand held high over his head, and continued “that is enough exercise for me, because if I get all twisted into those poses I might never be able to untie myself. And besides, look what it has done to you, Mani, you cannot even drive your own Rolls Royce! Yoga is not for me, I fear, but I will make paintings about it.”

No one recalls paintings about yoga ever appearing from the Battiss studio, but these drawings date to almost 10 months later, and one must wonder at the impossibly tangled body poses coupled with coiffed hair and smiles in the No Yes suite of drawings. Perhaps he did watch a yoga class but Battiss certainly amused himself with these drawings and would have enjoyed the story.

Walter Battiss’ final solo exhibition was at Goodman Gallery in April 1982. While on a holiday at his beach house in Leisure Bay, KwaZulu/Natal he suffered a heart attack and died in August 1982. 

 

Lisa Brice (b.1968)

As an artist working in Trinidad at the time of this series, Lisa Brice became a regular at the weekly gatherings of the StudioFilmClub (SFC) run by artists Peter Doig and Che Lovelace. Brice took night vision photographs during the screenings, which were later used to illustrate and record the atmosphere of the SFC nights in a catalogue printed by Walter Koenig, for an exhibition of Doig’s painted SFC posters at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne and the Kunsthalle Zurich.

While drawing on her usual accumulation of imagery from media sources, Brice’s featured work is also informed by the hundreds of these night vision photographs. The almost monochromatic greenish palette of the night vision mode on video cameras suggests, apart from the eeriness of the desaturated colour, a sense of intrigue and an invasion of privacy.

 

Lisa Brice untitled

Lisa Brice 

Untitled, 2005

Oil on paper

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This investigation reveals the variety of forms fear takes on. Like a shapeshifter, this fear takes forms often found in folklore, religion, film, children’s stories, politics as well as in our personal mythologies. In evoking this imagery, the work is intended to suggest a struggle in which hope and magic have the possibility of prevailing.

Brice has lived and worked in London and Trinidad for over 20 years and was Tate Britain’s Art Now guest artist in 2018, presenting a widely acclaimed exhibition of paintings curated by Aicha Mehrez. Her work was featured in the volume Vitamin P2, part of the renowned series of Phaidon publications on contemporary art.

 

Bongiwe Dhlomo-Mautloa (b.1956) and Kagiso Patrick Mautloa (b. 1952)

Stalwarts of the struggle for freedom and equal rights in South Africa, Bongiwe Dhlomo-Mautloa and Kagiso Patrick Mautloa have been leaders in the cultural search for equality in education, opportunity and freedom of artistic expression. Dhlomo and Mautloa, both born in KwaZulu-Natal province, met at Rorke’s Drift Art and Craft Centre, where they graduated with diplomas in fine arts from the art school. The 1976 Soweto student uprising was a major political influence on the thinking and practice of both young artists. In a second year class, before they began dating, the student pair made the silkscreen work, Combination, 1979. The image shows a happy get-together, and its bright colours, reference to rock art, use of text and multiple layers of printing demonstrate the trend in African printmaking at that time. 

 

Bongi Dhlomo & Kagiso Pat Mautloa combination

Bongi Dhlomo & Pat Mautloa

Combination, 1979

Silkscreen

44 x 58 cm (17.3 x 22.8 in)

Edition 1 of 1 + AP

Not for sale

Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa is an active member of the South African arts community, working as a painter, printmaker, curator, arts administrator, mentor and patron. From the African Art Centre in the city of Durban (1980 - 83), her career has included being exhibitions curator at FUBA Gallery (Federated Union of Black Artists) where she succeeded her friend and colleague David Koloane. She also assisted in setting up an African Art Studio and exhibitions programme for  Goodman Gallery and in the late 1980’s co-founded the Alexandra Art Centre. 

 

Bongi Dhlomo crucifixion

Bongi Dhlomo

Untitled (Female Crucifixion) , 1979

Silkscreen

33.5 x 25 cm (13 x 9.8 in)

Not for sale

AP

 

Dhlomo-Mautloa later served on the projects teams for both the 1995 and 1997 Johannesburg Biennales. Her etching exhibited on Lasting Influences, Untitled (female crucifixion), 1979, occasioned much debate around the story of a young woman persecuted for becoming a Christian, stirred controversy in conservative religious circles and arguments in academic circles as to whether she was a “feminist artist”. The artist herself says she may not have known the movement at the time, nor applied the word to herself then, but knew that she wanted to see women in a more equal place in society, with a greater voice in the art of her time and that she always thought of her work in political terms. 

Dhlomo-Mautloa and husband Kagiso (known as Pat), remain involved in activism,  in mentorship, art making, serve on advisory boards and in assisting residencies, fundraising and development, especially in Alexandra, where they are respected cultural community leaders. Pat Mautloa has long been a member of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios where he maintains his own painting, sculpture and printmaking studio, but has long been a mentor to newcomers, curated exhibitions and open studios as well as helping to host international artists’ residencies. 

 

Dumile Feni (1942-1991)

Zwelidumile Mgxaji Mhlaba Feni, more commonly referred to as Dumile Feni, was born in Worcester, South Africa. Upon being admitted to Sancta to be treated for tuberculosis, Feni was given materials with which to occupy himself throughout the duration of his hospital stay. Despite no formal training, newspapers and critics soon started referring to Feni as the ‘Goya of the townships.’ He went on to represent South Africa alongside other artists in the 1967 and 1973 Sao Paulo Biennale Exhibitions, where he won first prize for Drawing.

Core themes in Feni’s work arose from his infinite belief that the equality and the culture of South Africa were inseparable from the struggle for liberation. In 1960, he was incarcerated for the first time by the South African regime as his art, in both form and content, was regarded as a threat to the interests of the state. 

 

Dumile Feni animal with hat

Dumile Feni

Self Portrait (animal with hat, ref #33.2), c.1979

67 x 108 cm (26.4 x 42.5 in)

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Dumile Feni

Dumile Feni

Untitled #18 (Studies for sculpture- double sided), c.1985

45.5 x 60 cm (17.7 x 23.6 in)

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Self Portrait (animal with hat), circa 1979, was produced in Feni’s studio in New York and will be shown for the first time in South Africa. It is one of several self portraits by the artist in which he depicts himself as an animal often identifying during his long years in self imposed exile, with a stray dog, or lost animal.

Untitled #18 (Studies for Sculpture) circa 1985, is dated by other numbered studies for a sculpture the artist planned and made in New York in the mid 1980’s. Like others in this series from a pad of similar paper, this work has both recto and verso drawn in ink with various versions of the heads of lovers, and figures entwined and inverted, which relate to works in three dimensions produced soon afterward.

Dumile Feni seated woman

Dumile Feni

Untitled (Seated Woman), c. 1965

Terracotta

34 x 19.5 x 22 cm (13.4 x 7.5 x 8.7 in)

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Untitled (seated woman), c. 1965, a terracotta sculpture, was acquired by the owner 56 years ago from the artist when he lived and worked in the city of Durban on South Africa’s east coast. The sensitive face, the woman’s position folding her arms across her breasts, her very straight back and the angularity of her shoulders and limbs are typical of the artist’s style and relate very much to early drawings of women seated in this awkward manner, as though feeling challenged by the viewer’s gaze. 

Although he was later exiled from the nation by the apartheid government, Feni set up learning opportunities with Bill Ainslie within the country for individuals living in the townships, making it possible for them to keep records of cultural information. The artist’s work continued to contribute to the movement in the struggle against apartheid after his exile. Notably, Feni participated in the 25th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter - commemorated by the United Nations in 1980.

 

Kendell Geers intro text

Kendell Geers

Rietveld Waiting for the Barbarians, 2012

Mild steel, razor mesh and concrete

207 x 66.5 x 85 cm (81.5 x 26 x 33.5 in)

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Kendell Geers (b.1968)

South African-born, Belgian artist Kendell Geers changed his date of birth to May 1968 in order to give birth to himself as a work of art. Describing himself as an ‘AniMystikAKtivist’, Geers takes a syncretic approach to art that weaves together diverse Afro-European traditions, including animism, alchemy, mysticism, ritual and a socio-political activism laced with black humour, irony and cultural contradiction.

Rietveld Waiting for the Barbarians forms a part of Geers’ sculptural body of work, first shown on his Songs of Innocence and of Experience exhibition in 2012 at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg. This series contemplates his birthplace and its history in relation to contemporary experience. “For too long now", writes the artist, "my work has been considered ‘suspect’ by … audience[s] and I have been haunted by the ‘enfant terrible’ reputation I earned myself … [this series serves] as a return to my roots, a meditation upon what it means to be a white African and a Working Class Afrikaans South African. The cultural logic of my identity, the history and politics of my cultural inheritance are woven together with experience and with delightful innocence”. 

 

Taking J. M. Coetzee’s novel of the same title, a startling allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed, Geers’ large scale sculpture presents as a kind of anti-monument to the innumerable divisions within this world which separate and have separated spaces and people, as well as how they have drawn and continue to draw them into countless conflicts.  Geers’ signature use of Razormesh localises this narrative. 

“Razormesh and security fencing mark our suburban lives in South Africa, protecting us from hidden nameless enemies banging at our gates. We live in compounds imprisoned by our desire to be free and safe within a space etched out from the environment by razorblades and electric fences. The world patent for Razormesh remains in the hands of a South African corporation and it is our unique product, a cultural weapon exported to every single political flash point on the planet, an economic success story that cut its teeth in our dark history … [the] work is a meditation upon my personal cultural heritage, my roots and in reflection upon my community, a modern unspoken heritage, a cultural icon that we are blinded to.” – Kendell Geers

 

David Goldblatt (1930 - 2018)

David Goldblatt was born in 1930 in Randfontein, South Africa and from the early 1960s, devoted all of his time to photography. In 1989 Goldblatt founded the Market Photography Workshop in Johannesburg, with, he explains “the object of teaching visual literacy and photographic skills to young people, with particular emphasis on those disadvantaged by apartheid”. In 1998 he was the first South African to be given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Goldblatt received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town in 2001. In that same year a retrospective exhibition, David Goldblatt: Fifty-One Years, opened in Barcelona, and later travelled to galleries and museums around the world.  His work was represented at Documenta 11 (2002) and Documenta 12 (2007) in Kassel, Germany. Goldblatt received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008.

David Goldblatt shiftboss

David Goldblatt

Shiftboss and Lashing Men in a stope, Consolidated Main Reef, Roodepoort. (3_D6997), 1967

Silver gelatin print on fibre-based paper

53 x 70 cm (20.9 x 27.6 in)

Edition 5 of 10

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Goldblatt’s photographs are in the collections of the South African National Gallery, Cape Town; the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and MoMA New York, among many other prestigious museums. Goldblatt is the recipient of the 2006 Hasselblad Award and the 2009 Henri Cartier-Bresson Award, was recently named the 2010 Lucie Award Lifetime Achievement Honoree, and in 2011 received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.

 

David Goldblatt 4_9162CN Untitled

David Goldblatt

4_9162CN Untitled, 2004
Digital print in pigment inks on cotton rag paper
Edition of 10

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David Goldblatt the carts

David Goldblatt

The carts of the paper-and-bottle pickers, Doornfontein, April 1974 (4_2229), 1974

Silver gelatin print on fibre-based paper

47.4 x 55.6 cm (18.5 x 21.7 in)

Edition 1 of 10

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Goldblatt and the late Nobel Laureate for Literature, Nadine Gordimer, collaborated to examine the human and political dimensions of mining in South Africa, and the photographs and texts were published as the acclaimed book On the Mines. In another collaboration, with writer Ivan Vladislavic, Goldblatt published TJ/Double Negative, with his photographs of close observations of street life in the city of Johannesburg accompanying the novel by the writer, dealing with the denizens of the city witnessed by a photographer.

 

Robert Hodgins (1920 - 2010)

Robert Hodgins was born in London’s Dulwich, to a single mother in poor circumstances. He had a hard childhood, and sometimes without shoes would escape the cold and wet weather by visiting the National Gallery where some of the attendants, seeing his plight sympathetically, would let him linger and even talk to him about paintings he liked. He often credited those times with lighting a fire in him for painting. In 1938 he emigrated to Cape Town helped by a great uncle who saw to it that the young man could buy a suit, and a passage to South Africa to take up work as an insurance clerk. He took to life above the Harbour Cafe, and spent his wages on weekend carousing, enjoying a new sense of independence. 

Robert Hodgins off to the charity

Robert Hodgins

Off to the Charity Ball, 1999/2000

Oil and charcoal on canvas and wood

126 x 152 x 34 cm (49.6 x 59.8 x 13.4 in)

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Following his service with the Union Defence Forces in North Africa during World War II, he was back in England by 1945 and studied while working part time, first towards a teaching diploma, 1946 and ‘47, but managed to get himself into the prestigious Goldsmith’s College of Art, part of the University of London. He reveled in his years there, 1950 to 1953, taking teaching studies and then art. After graduating with his diploma, he returned to South Africa, at first teaching painting and drawing at the Technical College, Pretoria. Later he worked as an art critic for the Newsweek magazine and rose to become Assistant Editor. 

 

Robert Hodgins - The Figure by the river

Robert Hodgins

Figure by a River, 2006

Oil on canvas

75 x 75 cm (29.5 x 29.5 in)

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Finally Hodgins took up a lectureship at the University of Witwatersrand where he ended his teaching career in 1983 after years as senior lecturer in painting. He would often say later that all his life up till this point led him to be free to paint his own works, and enjoy commenting on the human condition and the experiences he had lived through “with a gimlet eye, and a twinkle of humour.” Partly due to this long trajectory towards fulfilling his desire to paint, public following and critical recognition came later than usual to this great exponent of drawing, painting, printmaking and eventually, ceramics. He found joy in always taking up new artistic challenges, learning to make digital drawings on a computer at 78 years of age.

Robert Hodgins the battle of cassina

Robert Hodgins

The Battle of Cascina II, 2006

Oil on canvas

92.5 x 122.5 cm (36.2 x 48 in)

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He loved the expressionist way of painting, enjoying gestural movement in  painting  onto canvas but also favoured drawing and sketching ideas as regular preparation and exercise, using his materials with knowledge of their properties and high standards gained at Goldsmith’s.

Hodgins favoured satire, socio-political studies of petty bureaucrats, men in suits and uniforms which disguised their venailty or granted them the semblance of respectability while they concealed their misdeeds. He had as a child visited a gymnasium where he encountered retired boxers, beaten men he said were really punch drunk, struggling with physical pains but gruffly kind to him, and encouraging his efforts. Gradually the poor streets with ladies of the night, these boxers, the post war songs, dance hall girls and crooners, circus folks and ne’er-do-wells became a part of his favoured range of subjects. Added to military men, New York cops, and pinstriped businessmen who played power games, this was his theatre of life. Always talking of us, and we rather than they, he evaluated cynically, all human behaviour, including his own. Tackling tough subjects with a hint of understanding, complicity or trying to find the humour in life, he found a way to be a social critic with a conscience, but also protesting that he was “never a political artist” while digging at the failings he perceived in the powerful.

 

Robert Hodgins skull piece

Robert Hodgins

Skull Piece II, 2007

Painted & glazed stoneware sculpture; white plinth & glass cover, diptych in 2 pieces

22.5 x 12.5 x 11.5 cm (8.7 x 4.7 x 4.3 in)

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Hodgins enjoyed continually learning, taking also to ceramic work late in life and making a range of sculpture in porcelain, terracotta, glass, and stoneware. 

Hodgins gained a well deserved reputation as a mentor and excellent teacher but also as a witty and technically skilled painter and draughtsman who captured our human race in all its vainglory, foibles, and amusement. He would reference great works of art, poetry, opera, music and history with an accurate memory, and believed firmly that the present had much to gain from the past. His works on this exhibition cover his wide spectrum of media, with a couple clearly not pleased with one another trying to look good as they depart for a charity ball, a skull which can sit and review itself separately, a kindly take on Whistler’s gloomy portrait, and Ubu Roi, that personification of spite and exploitation looking smug and too pink and shiny. He makes porcelain, oil colours, drawing into painting and painting into clay, all work to his will. The two paintings from 2006 concern the tale of a battle near the Town of Cascine in the Roman Empire. An army who, believing they had routed their enemy force, stripped off their armour and clothing to swim naked in a river on a hot day. But the first enemy fighters were a decoy and they found themselves surprised in their vulnerable state; ambushed by a second army of foes. It was a story of pride in victory going before a fall to their victorious enemies, a subject of abject lessons, he said. 

Robert Hodgins UBU Entrepreneur

Robert Hodgins

UBU Entrepreneur, 1994

Painted and glazed porcelain ceramic sculpture, with plinth and glass cover

Work: 13 x 25 x 18 cm (5.1 x 9.8 x 7.1 in)

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Robert Hodgins - Study After Michelangelo no.2

Robert Hodgins

Study After Michelangelo no.2, 2009

Oil on canvas

60 x 60 cm

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Deborah Bell  (b.1957) 

Deborah Bell is a graduate of the University of Witwatersrand where she was a painting student of Robert Hodgins, then senior lecturer in painting, and a contemporary of William Kentridge. She is known for works in drawing, sculpture and has long enjoyed the processes of etching and lithography, and engages with the alchemy of ink, paper, pencils, charcoal and oils. 

Bell’s conceptual concerns refer to classical history, mysticism, goddesses and her place in ancient and contemporary Africa and the ancestral connections between the two. 

Deborah Bell morphin heads

Deborah Bell

Morphing for Herod (in collaboration with Robert Hodgins), 1993/2017

oil on canvas

40 x 51 cm (15.8 x 20.1 in)

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The subject of the painting Morphing for Herod (1993 to 2017) refers to the dance of Salome, for the biblical King Herod, but also refers to Bell’s own love of dancing with longtime friend and mentor, Robert Hodgins. In fact as the texts and inscriptions on the verso testify, it was Hodgins who began painting this canvas of the moving, morphing, nude dancer across the surface of the canvas, in 1993. He later signed, dated and titled the work on the reverse, and gave the painting to Deborah Bell as a gift. When it was later damaged in storage she undertook to restore the surface image, but only finished this renewed image of the dancer and a suited “Herod” in 2017. After Hodgins’ death in 2010, Bell found it very challenging to work on two oils left incomplete by her late friend who requested she consider completing them in her own way, as they would do in collaborative works of the past. Only once she had found her way into those images and contented herself that they felt right, did she eventually return to this work gifted by Hodgins and which is now a collaborative work from both artists.


 

William Kentridge (b. 1955)

William Kentridge's artistic practice, expressionist in nature, is entirely underpinned by drawing.  He is perhaps best known for his series of eleven animated films, Drawings for Projection, the earliest of which was completed in 1989 and the most recent, City Deep, had its premiere in 2020.  These hand-drawn films follow the narrative of fictional mining magnate, Soho Eckstein, his wife and her lover, Felix Teitlebaum.  This saga is permeated with anecdotal elements from Kentridge's own life and the political events which unfolded in South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy.

 

William Kentridge

William Kentridge

Drawing for Other Faces (Soho Shouting), 2011

Charcoal and coloured pencil on paper

73 x 96 cm (28.7 x 37.8 in)

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In a drawing from the Other Faces film, Soho is seen in a moment of road rage, as he moves through the film in a series of collisions of circumstance and recollection.  In the film, the city of Johannesburg – inconstant, desperate, desiring, impenetrable – appears not so much as context as it does subject, in images of streets, facades, landscapes, and people. Soho is quick to revert to his former self, the bullying tycoon, in this scene. 

 

William kentridge - memorandum

William Kentridge

Untitled (Memorandum - seated Nude), 2004

Pencil on found ledger pages

Frame: 47.5 x 55 cm

Work: 32.5 x 40.5 cm

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The drawing, Untitled (Memorandum - seated Nude) was done in 2004, around the same time as the filming and making of the Black Box / Chambre Noire installation and film project which was a reflection of the history of the German Colonial presence in Southwest Africa (now Namibia) and the massacre of the Herero people and slaughter of big game animals such as rhinoceroses. The cash book page is taken from a Sudwest Afrika Dairy products concern from 1904,  and the delicate nude sits with her head down in a moment of reflection, giving Kentridge too, a quiet moment on these found pages. 

 

William Kentridge my friend

William Kentridge

My dear friend (He that fled his fate) – Mbinda Cemetery, 1994

Silkscreen on paper in 6 colours

64 x 76.5 cm (25.2 x 29.9 in)

Edition 41 of 55

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Kentridge is currently working towards a major exhibition at The Royal Academy in London. The exhibition will present a sweeping view across Kentridge’s forty-year career, featuring rarely seen works from the 1980s up to the present day, as well as newly created works. Charcoal drawings, animated films, mechanical theatre, sculpture, tapestry and large-scale performance pieces will be spread through a total of twelve individually themed galleries. The exhibition will be the most significant presentation of Kentridge’s work in the United Kingdom.


 

David Koloane (1938 - 2019)

David Koloane was born in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra and later lived in Soweto. The evidence of this immersion in the urban sprawl and challenges of existence in Johannesburg’s largest townships never left his oeuvre or subject matter. Through his expressive, evocative and poetic work, Koloane has interrogated the socio-political and existential human condition, in this divided city of tidy suburbia and dusty, smokey townships. In painting, drawing, printmaking, assemblages and mixed media, he delivers scenes both exuberant and sombre, blending discernible and opaque pictorial narratives.

 

David Koloane - fighting dogs

David Koloane

Fighting Dogs, 1983

Charcoal and acrylic

64 x 91 cm

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In 2008, Koloane was quoted as saying “apartheid was a politics, more than anything … (and mostly about) denying people the right to move. It’s all about space: restricting space. ... Claiming art is also reclaiming space.”

 

Through his works, the artist reclaims these spaces with his affirmed use and appropriation of the urban scenery, which is otherwise considered marginal. Koloane’s subject matter and colours characterise the frantic presence of the city, but simultaneously offer insight into the complex dialectic between the dynamism of the metropolis and the anxieties of the urban dweller. His works display the sensibilities and traditions of South African modernist expressionism; but complement his techniques with subject matter which is steeped in the contemporary visual culture of South African cosmopolitan urban experience.

 

David Koloane - still life I

David Koloane

Still life I, 1970s

Watercolour on paper

32.4 x 48.8 cm

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David Koloane

David Koloane

Untitled (the moon over Hillbrow Tower), 1995

Oil & mixed media on canvas 

124 x 110 cm

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Considered one of the South African masters, Koloane was a writer, curator, gallerist, teacher, artist, activist, and impassioned advocate of equal access to arts and culture education and training facilities for aspiring Black artists, which was profoundly lacking in South Africa under apartheid. David Koloane made a great contribution to the national political and cultural struggle in South Africa, and he was praised by the words of Steve Biko, who wrote that he “bestowed the greatest possible gift that an artist can give his subject: a more human face.”

His co-founding of the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios ensures that his legacy will continue to uplift and empower young South African artists for many years to come. 

Sam Nhlengethwa  (b.1955) 

Over the course of his career, Sam Nhlengethwa – dubbed “one of the country’s most celebrated living artists” - has developed a distinctive collage and painting practice that explores the everyday mechanisms of South African life. In so doing, the artist has established himself as an important voice within contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.

In early 1996, Nhlengethwa visited a number of coal, diamond and gold mines in South Africa. He spent time underground, interacting with the miners who inspired him to make artworks that depict miners and the challenging conditions they confront every day in mines which are sometimes kilometres deep beneath the surface. Through these images, Nhlengethwa seeks to give dignity to the frequently forgotten miners whose lives are spent unearthing the mineral wealth of South Africa. 

Sam Nhlengethwa untitled

Sam Nhlengethwa

Untitled III (After Mine Trip), 1999

Painting on canvas

62 x 56 cm (24.4 x 22.1 in)

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Sam Nhlengethwa outro text

Sam Nhlengethwa

Untitled III (After Mine Trip), 1999

Painting on canvas

62 x 56 cm (24.4 x 22.1 in)

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The two paintings included in the exhibition are painted in fine detail with minimal collaged material, and typical of the ongoing series After Mine Trip, which saw the artist return often to mines around the city of Johannesburg. Untitled I is a very personal portrait of two men, likely Team Leaders in the shafts, and Untitled 2, a more archetypal depiction of the crowded shaft elevators which descend and ascend constantly bringing new shifts of miners to the depths to excavate ore. These two paintings were commissioned after a mine visit and come from the collection of a major gem mining company. 


 

Walter Oltmann 

Walter Oltmann was born in Rustenburg in 1960, holds a BA (Fine Arts) from the University of Natal Pietermaritzburg, and MA (Fine Arts) from the University of Witwatersrand, where he was Senior Lecturer in sculpture for some years before pursuing his own art practice full time and completing his PhD. He won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award, (Visual Art 2001),  the 2007 SASOL Wax Art Award and is a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation residency programme.

Oltmann is best known for his sculptural practice of weaving in wire, most often aluminium wire, but also in brass, copper and steel wire. Originally influenced by grass weaving, sisal and rope weaving in rural customs in South Africa, he has taken his unique approach to this form to unprecedented scale and complexity. The artist has works in many public collections in South Africa, Europe, Australia, South and North America including large commissioned public sculpture. 2019 saw the installation of his 6.5 metre high woven wire sculpture, Vase with Pincushions (Protea flowers of the southwestern mountains of South Africa), in the atrium of a corporation in California.  His practice also includes drawing and painting as well as printing highly detailed fine wire-like tracery in lithographs and etchings.

 

Walter oltman sungazer

Walter Oltman

Sungazer III, 2021

Gold anodised aluminium wire, mounted to canvas

50 x 92 cm

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Evolution, metamorphosis, the environment, hybrids in nature, mutations and conservation are often at the heart of Oltmann’s subjects. He paints, draws and forms carapaces, defensive bristles and spines, protective evolutionary elements of creatures other than humans (who have favoured the brain over any such inbuilt defensive protection). Hs work contrasts delicate natural forms with their “monstrosity” of appearance, their vulnerability of soft substance and tiny form, with their spines and thorns, or poisons and armoured shells; in plant or animal forms.

Walter Oltman pangolin

Walter Oltman

Small Pangolin, 2021

Brass wire, mounted to canvas

20 x 25 cm

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The Small Pangolin, armoured as it may be, cannot resist the human onslaught however, and is critically endangered. In Oltmann’s very delicate woven brass fine wire, we are reminded of its precarious status.

He frequently references Kafka and his novella Metamorphosis and how humans may appear to wear defensive disguises and need protection, but also can be harmful to others – “uniforms or carapaces designed to provoke ambivalence”. In Kafka’s tale, the salesman Gregor awakens to find he has turned into a giant cockroach. As he struggles to get out of bed, catch a train and cope with everyday life, we understand the application of his predicament to the absurd nature of life in turbulent times and the human struggle to find and maintain one’s identity.

Walter oltman cockroach

Walter Oltman

Cockroach, 1998

Oil pint, oil stick and copper leaf on paper

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Tracey Rose (b.1974)

A critical voice in the global art landscape since the mid-90s, Tracey Rose works across performance, installation and photography to confront colonial legacies. Venus Baartman is a self-portrait in which Rose poses as Sarah Baartman. Baartman, who was brought to Europe in 1810 to be displayed in amusement fairs, became known by the racist slur “Hottentot Venus”. The work is a response to the way in which black bodies have been positioned and represented in colonial imagery —highlighting the continued violence of representation and use of the black female body, framed through scientific and anthropological devices. By investigating means of representation,  Rose exposes the pseudo-scientific ideas on which they are based. In this work, the artist’s body is a site of resistance, protest and refusal.

 

 

tracy rose Venus baartman

Tracey Rose â€‹
Venus Baartman, 2001

Lambda photograph

119 x 119 cm (46.9 x 46.9 in)

Edition of 6

Not For Sale

 

Venus Baartman is from the seminal work by Rose, Ciao Bella, a series of performative photographs and video installation which featured on the 2001 Venice Biennale.

Rose established a fierce and powerful presence in the 1990’s, unafraid to court controversy as a leading voice for her gender, and set a new path for performance art in South Africa. Her prominence among younger artists remains unabated.   

 

Cyprian Shilakoe (1946 - 1972)

Cyprian Shilakoe was born in Barberton in Mpumalanga.  He grew up on a Bushbuckridge mission station with his grandmother as his parents were migrant workers. He was one of the first classes of students to attend the Fine Arts course at Rorke's Drift Arts and Crafts Centre, studying printmaking there from 1968 to 1969. He worked with Azaria Mbatha and John Muafangejo at the art school during this time. In early 1970, he established a studio at St Ansgar Mission in Roodepoort  to the northwest of Johannesburg, and worked closely with Dan Rakgoathe. He began making carved wooden sculpture and drawings alongside his etchings.  Shilakoe held his first solo exhibition at the Goodman Gallery in Hyde Park, Johannesburg in 1970.

Shilakoe was determined to explore in his works the dreams, the events and the legends of his people. He confidently predicted his own early death with calm acceptance, and frequently spoke of rejoining his beloved grandmother in the after life. In his few years of professional practice he organised for his works to be exhibited also in Germany, Scandinavia and the USA. 

 

Cyprian Shilakoe

Cyprian Shilakoe 

The Philosopher, 1969

etching on paper

38.5 x 28.5 cm (15 x 11 in)

Edition 7 of 15

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For Shilakoe, etching and aquatint came as an “atmosphere approach”.  His approach was different from what the other students at Rorke’s Drift were doing. The ‘new’ brushed acid technique, which Shilakoe used, with its informal fluidity and tonal gradations, afforded a worrying sense of aesthetic ease. It was perceived as an authentic and individual style that Shilakoe had developed. The artworks included in this exhibition, Boys on the Gate and The Philosopher, conjure up the marginal lives of individuals who lack the security of belonging, in contrast to Shilakoe’s childhood years with his grandmother at his back, always his guide, reassurance, adviser and companion. Here, too, are the ghostly presences amid the evocative aquatints of his etching plates.

cyprian Shilakoe Boys

Cyprian Shilakoe

Boys on the gate, 1969

Etching

41.5 x 24 cm (16.1 x 9.5 in)

AP from an Edition of 15

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Shilakoe lost his life in a car accident in Johannesburg in September 1972, cutting short his life as predicted, but his influence as an innovative printmaker and the esteem of his peers and colleagues at Rorke’s Drift, have seen him frequently cited as an inspiration and role model for young artists over the past five decades. In 1990, he was posthumously acknowledged with the 1990 Standard Bank Guest Artist Award at the South African National Arts Festival which saw a comprehensive survey exhibition curated by Prof Karel Nel, tour museums in major centres of South Africa and Namibia.

 

Penny Siopis (b.1956)

Perhaps of all artists working in South Africa post-1970, Penny Siopis has exerted the most influence over aspiring students and scholars. Her stunningly prolific output, intellectual agility and natural interdisciplinary sensibility has captured the imaginations not only of fellow artists, curators and art lovers, but also of anthropologists, sociologists, historians and philosophers. It is difficult to resist being drawn into her capacity to reflect the always changing zeitgeist, on both locally-specific and globally-relevant levels.

All of Siopis’ explorations, whether with body politics, memory, migration, or the relations between the human and non-human, are characterised by her interest in what she calls the ‘poetics of vulnerability’ – embodied in the dynamic play between materiality and reference, chance and contingency, form and formlessness, personal and collective history.

From the outset, Siopis’ attitude to painting has been simultaneously modernist and counter-modernist in its complex irreverence to the purity of both the creative act and “arm’s length painting”. At that time such ‘mastery’ was at the centre of the romance of the physical medium. This irreverence was perhaps most dramatically expressed in her performative parody of the ‘mastery’ of painting, or more accurately what she called masculine creative performance, a romance Siopis sought to challenge and re-articulate in her own work.

Penny Siopis

Penny Siopis

Slab, 1982

Oil On canvas mounted to board

92 x 121.5 cm (36.2 x 47.6 in.)

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Paint in Siopis’ hands is a medium of sensuous and conceptual alterity, of strangeness, of otherness. The touch-oriented, sensuous intimacy of her early work, the logic of assembling readymade materials in complex spatial constellations in the history paintings and assemblages, which follow through in her later installations, can be traced to her maverick use of paint as object, sign, and surface from her earliest creative years. Siopis’ creative affair with materiality and surface is as much an intellectual as an intuitive passion. Tracking that passion through her work offers us profound insights into her distinctive creative responsiveness, riskiness and resilience

 

Penny Siopis Julia

Penny Siopis

Julia's Friend, 2007

Ink, oil and glue on paper

21 x 14 cm (8.3 x 5.5 in)

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Siopis is a Masters in Fine Arts graduate of Rhodes University, Makhanda, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from her Alma Mater. She has studied further and also taught widely, in South Africa, the UK and Sweden, and is now an Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town. She is widely regarded as one of the country’s most influential artists and academics. 

Clive van den Berg (b. 1956)

As an artist, curator, designer, writer, teacher and activist, Clive van den Berg has worked across various mediums throughout the course of his career, producing a range of works unified by his enduring focus on six interrelated themes: memory, light, landscape, desire, body and otherness. In Van den Berg’s body of work Memorials Without Facts, death and desire hold hands like lovers at the end of the world, looking back at havoc with a contemplative eye. The artist has made numerous works within this ongoing series – paintings, videos and public works – that poetically explore the memorialisation of trauma, sexuality, and marginal histories, often within the framework of fictional love stories as well as the small but potent histories of men loving.

Clive van ben Berg artwork 1

Clive van den Berg

Sleeping with the Dead, 2007

Bronze

22 x 11 x 9 cm (8.7 x 4.3 x 3.5 in)

Edition of 5

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While these works have inevitably carried political weight, their core has been a moving, often melancholic meditation on homosexual love and loss. With paintings and sculptures, like Eulogy Painting #8 and Sleeping with the Dead, the artist invites a sombre perspective that welcomes death into the quiet moments of life’s dinner tables and beds. Memories of loss are claimed and owned by Van den Berg as inevitably implicated in the stuff of desire: where love blooms, death shrouds its intimacy with ghostly sighs. 

On works from this series, the artists writes: 

“As an exploration of the interconnectedness of death and desire, and of how an aesthetic process makes for a healing experience, I think about ghosts a lot. I started doing so as a boy coming to the knowledge that I was gay. I wanted a history, but could find little other than a collection of profanities and some whispered innuendo about men and boys who were different … somehow knowing that there had been others before me, I invented their lives, incident by incident. The details of these changed over the decades. And yet not. For all had love at their centre … [However], some love is never unconnected to stubborn connective skeins of opprobrium. Countering this opprobrium is the work of much of my art. I have maintained faith in love partly comforted by conversations with ghosts. I imagine that these fugitive men cheer my kissing and coupling, and that all of us, alive, dead and in limbo know that every affectionate enactment is homage and re-inscription of centuries-old gestures.” 

 

Clive van ben Berg artwork 2

Clive van ben Berg

Supplicant: wood, 2008

Wood, wax and pigment

38 x 25 x 6 cm (15 x 9.8 x 2.4 in)

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Cilve van den Berg artwork 3

Cilve van den Berg

Event, 2008

Wood, wax and pigment

29 x 26 x 12 cm (11.4 x 10.2 x 4.7 in)

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Cive van den Berg artwork 4

Cive van den Berg

Eulogy Painting #8, 2000

Acrylic on board

29 x 58 cm (11.4 x 22.8 in)

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Jeremy Wafer (b. 1953)

Working across sculpture, photography, video and drawing, Wafer explores the politics and poetics of place and mapping. Rooted in South Africa’s social, cultural and political geography, Wafer’s work engages issues of land and territory, particularly themes of location, dislocation, possession and dispossession.

Jeremy Wafer Harbour 1

Jeremy Wafer

Harbour series #22, 1988

Ammonia print

Work: 84 x 59.4 cm (33 x 23.4 in.)

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Harbour is a series of ammonia process prints made over a fairly extended time during the 1980s. The work centres on the harbour area of Durban but also extends to landscape images made further afield and to fragments of the domestic and urban environment. The harbour area was a particularly rich source of imagery —  oil tank farms, warehouses and silos, cranes and ships, dry-docks, huge stockpiles of sugar and coal, stacks of palletised goods and the bay itself with its sandbanks, sewerage outlets, deep channels, murky backwaters and mangrove swamps — through which Wafer explored sites of control and securitisation. Similarly, Levels, a steel wall sculpture with three elements on a 1m steel shelf, engages the possibilities of resistance against an oppressive social and political environment.These vessels suggest pressure and concealed strength, and are an important motif in other drawings, photographs and video works by the artist. 

 

Jeremy Wafer Harbour 2

Jeremy Wafer

Harbour series #34, 1988

Ammonia print

84 x 59.4 cm / 33 x 23.4 in.

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Wafer has had a significant career in academics and is especially known for his works dealing with boundaries, barriers, territorial divisions and markers of identity.

Jeremey Wafer levels

Jeremy Wafer

Levels, 1992

Steel and bronze

58 x 90 x 25 cm / 22 x 35.4 x 9.8 in.

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Sue Williamson (b. 1941)

Sue Williamson is part of a pioneering generation of South African artists who challenged the apartheid government from the 1970s and has been represented by Goodman Gallery since 1993 - the year she held her first solo exhibition at the gallery for which she won the 1994 Vita award for best exhibition in the country.

Williamson has adhered to a documentarian’s credo of bearing witness and serving as a moral conscience. But she also finds new forms - aesthetic and technological - to renew her commitment to the above principles, and to draw the viewer into narratives she forges out of text, image and object. 

Her work forms part of the permanent collections of esteemed institutions including MoMA in New York (with her pioneering 1990 installation For Thirty Years Next to His Heart currently featuring on their The Sum of All Parts group exhibition, after their critically acclaimed Collection Rehang last year); London's Tate Modern; the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, to name a few. 

More recently, Williamson’s work has been included in major surveys around art and activism, particularly from the perspective of women artists at Centre Pompidou (2019) and Fondazione Merz (2019).

 

Sue W artwork 1

Sue Williamson

A Few South Africans: Amina Cachalia, 1984

Photo etching and screenprint collage

100 x 70 cm (39.4 x 27.6 in)

Edition 30 of 35

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Made in the 1980s, a time when South Africa was still firmly under the grip of apartheid, A Few South Africans originated as a series that attempted to make visible the history of women who had made an impact on the struggle for liberation. The ‘Few’ in the title referred to the fact that the subjects of the portraits represented a small number of the many thousands of women who were involved in this struggle. In those years, news and photographs of these leaders never appeared in the white dominated press, so little was known about them. For her series, the artist herself took many of the portrait photos on which the photo-etchings are based and others were sourced from banned books in university libraries. Williamson placed her subject, who often gazes directly at the viewer, in the centre of the image, a centrality designed to give each woman the status of a heroine. Behind the women, details of their lives form a rich background landscape. Technically, the central image in each work is a photo-etching with other etching techniques added. The colourful frames are screenprinted on separate sheets of paper and collaged over the etched images, along with layers of coloured borders cut into zig zags. The frames, with their additional smaller images added in, extend the histories of each woman. In some, like the frames of Mamphela Ramphele and Virginia Mngoma. the extra images have been utilised as if in an African fabric design. The layered form of the frames refers to the way residents in Crossroads, a Cape Town squatter camp, elevated snapshots to small artworks by framing these images with coloured gift wraps and wall papers cut with zig-zag scissors. A critical part of the history of this series is that the individual portraits were printed as postcards, in order to make the images widely accessible to the general public. Distributed through a variety of alternative sources, one set reaching Nelson Mandela in jail, these postcards have been referred to as ‘one of the most important icons of the eighties’.

 

Sue W artwork 2

Sue Williamson

A Few South Africans: Charlotte Maxeke, 1984

Photo etching and screenprint collage

70 x 100 cm (27.6 x 39.4 in)

Edition 13 of 35

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