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Because of them we remember

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Exhibition to showcase seminal works

Picture: Supplied

An exhibition showcasing seminal works from the permanent collection of the William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG), will be opening in Kimberley tonight.

The exhibition, entitled “Gonne Ka Bone Ra Gopola/Because Of Them We Remember” features artworks by a selection of artists who are part of the Grade 12 school curriculum.

According to WHAG spokesperson, Anna Stewart, by selecting these seminal artists, the WHAG has an opportunity to bring to life the realities and modes of creative production of some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists.

“The exhibition aims to not just educate the viewer about the works of specific artists within our collection but also to shed light on the looming gaps of artists whose contribution to South Africa’s art history have been forgotten or erased,” Stewart explained.

“The exhibition is a call for us all to pay homage to the creatives who were and are brave enough to comment, challenge and interrogate the exclusionary narratives of the past; to those who highlight the looming disparities between privilege and poverty within the present-day society and those who re-imagine the possibilities of the future. Through the creative production of South Africa’s artists, we are reminded of our individual and collective histories, our diverse lived realities and presented with an opportunity to remember who we once were, who we are and the kind of nation we can become,” Stewart added.

The exhibition features works by renowned artists, such as Manfred Zylla, Willie Bester, John Muafengejo, William Kentridge, Cecil Skotnes, Helen Sebidi, George Pemba, Pippa Skotnes, Sydney Kumalo, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Gerard Sekoto, Irma Stern and Ephraim Ngatane.

The exhibition opens at 6pm, at the WHAG tonight and members of the public are invited to attend.

THE ARTISTS

Manfred Zylla (1939 – )

Zylla was born in Germany during Adolf Hitler’s rule, and came to South Africa in 1970. He commented on the unstable 1980s in South Africa, and used his large-scale drawings, prints and paintings as a tool to demonstrate the inequalities and the atrocities experienced by people living under the effects of the imposed State of Emergency. Zylla initiated a venture that encouraged the community to involve themselves in expressing their feelings regarding the tyranny of apartheid by inviting them to add to his finished pieces which he had been working on at the Community Arts Centre in Cape Town and exhibited in June, 1982.

Willie Bester (1956 – )

Bester was born in Montagu in the Western Cape in 1956. Political and social issues are always present in his work. He uses an assortment of mixed media in his works, from tins, old newspaper clippings, road signs, recycled objects, car parts, and all kinds of found objects to create his artworks to express his own experiences of apartheid and the evolving of democracy in our country. The process of using scrap materials and recreating something new, signifies of a new future being built from all the differences in the past. His role as a struggle artist changed into one who comments on social and political developments in a Post-Apartheid South Africa on issues like crime, poverty, and corruption. Social awareness form part of his unique approach to art.

John Muafengejo (1943 – 1987)

Muafengejo was a Namibian artist, born in Angola. He grew up in a traditional homestead, herding cattle during the day and playing communal and literary games with his elders in the evening. The violent struggle for independence in South West Africa (later Namibia) often formed the background for his earlier art. Religious subjects feature prominently in his work, reflecting his strong religious background. He often combined text with images, and his images contain references to the history and culture. He was a printmaker of note, the linocut process being his favourite medium to work in.

William Kentridge (1955 – )

Kentridge is world-famous for his etchings, prints, charcoal drawings and animated films and theatre. Both his parents were well-known lawyers and defended victims during apartheid that were wrongfully accused. The basics of our country’s socio-political condition and history served as a main theme for his works. Kentridge uses satire in his work to comment on political circumstances as well as aspects of social injustice that have emerged over the years in South Africa.

Cecil Skotnes (1926 – 2009)

During his own studies of art history, he was particularly captivated by African art, and it made a lasting impression on him. His work displays a very obvious influence from traditional Africa and it is reflected in his subject matter and the way he created art. One of his important achievements was during the 1970s when he created the publication of The Assassination of Shaka Zulu, a series of woodcuts that depicts the life of Shaka.

“The Shaka epic was visualised after I became acquainted with the main elements of his story. It started as an interest in the man, and became an obsession to give him his rightful place as the most important historical figure of the first half of the nineteenth century.”

Helen Sebidi (1943 – )

Mmakgabo Mmapula Helen Sebidi was born in Hammanskraal, Northern Transvaal and grew up in a rural environment in the care of her grandmother. Being surrounded by a Tswana community that appreciated and practised various modes of visual, oral and musical traditions, Sebidi learned the value of creative expression. She spent much of her young adult life (she left school after Grade 8) as a domestic worker in Johannesburg. Sebidi showed a great deal of interest in painting and she was given her first set of oil paints by her employer who also painted. She joined art classes before returning home in 1975 to look after her ailing grandmother.

Working predominantly in pastel, acrylic and oil paint, she has developed a distinct style that uses vibrant juxtaposed colour, rough surfaces, distorted perspectives, abstracted human and animal figures, and dream images often in a pointillist, stippled style of pastel or paint application.