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World-renowned artist, author to showcase work


Art enthusiasts in Kimberley can look forward to marvelling at the work of world-renowned artist Zakes Mda who will be hosting a solo exhibition at the William Humphreys Art Gallery.

Picture: Supplied

Art enthusiasts in Kimberley can look forward to marvelling at the work of world-renowned artist Zakes Mda who will be hosting a solo exhibition at the William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) from November 23.

Mda is a multifaceted artist who can easily transition from novelist to screenwriter, painter and playwright.

The chief curator of WHAG, Chepape Makgato, said the exhibition will not only showcase the body of Mda’s artistic skills but will also celebrate his homecoming as well as his birthday.

“The eagerly-anticipated solo exhibition, ‘Always The Sun’, promises a captivating celebration of Mda’s return to South Africa after an illustrious academic career in the United States. The timing of this extraordinary exhibition coincides with Mda’s 75th birthday, which was on October 6, marking a significant moment as he presents a collection deeply rooted in his South African heritage,” said Makgato.

“Mda’s artwork, predominantly inter-textual, features a dynamic fusion of mixed media such as cloth, acrylic, oil on canvas, collage and three-dimensional objects. Each piece delves into profound representations of conflicts surrounding work, relationships and sexuality, while also honouring performance, particularly dance and music, as a conduit for social healing.

“This exhibition will also celebrate the large amount of work he has delivered to the arts and culture sector over the years.”

Makgato said local artists and residents will be spoiled by the artistry on display.

“Mda’s style, which is a synthesis of European expressionist, Brasque-inspired Cubism, lipatrone and Basotho, embodies a unique and multifaceted approach. Some paintings are influenced by scenes from his novels, intertwining fiction and storytelling, while others interpret characters from his literary works.

“The exhibition prominently features the poignant painting, ‘Man in Green Blanket’, which is a reflection on the Marikana Massacre of 2012. This piece serves as a reminder of pivotal events in South African history and the stark realities that society tends to overlook. Mda’s art becomes a tool not only to evoke emotions but to provoke societal contemplation.

“The exhibition’s title, ‘Always The Sun’, reflects the transparency of his art, done openly and brightly like the sun. Mda’s artistic approach, which incorporates impasto texture and the portrayal of figures significant to South African history, delivers a profound resonance. The impasto technique adds depth and a tactile quality to his works, engaging the viewer on an emotional level.

“Through his artistic expressions, Mda contributes to the broader narrative of South Africa’s complex history and cultural heritage. Honouring influential figures and acknowledging historical events like the Marikana Massacre through art serves as a powerful means of memorialisation and education.”

Makgato added that a ‘Masterclass on Creative Writing’ will form part of the exhibition, which will afford aspirant and established writers the opportunity to pen some guidance from the masterful author.

“A master class on creative writing and a panel discussion on the correlation between creative writing and art are among the upcoming events. Students from Sol Plaatje University who are studying creative writing will form part of the masterclass. We, however, want to expand that invitation to the public in order for them to be also able to attend and benefit from the masterclass. The public can RSVP to secure their seat in the masterclass.

“Additional events include a public lecture on Father Frand Claerhout, a Belgian painter who spent most of his life in South Africa. The lecture and the masterclass are open to the general public who have a passion or interest in art and writing.

“This is also a fruitful moment to show the public that the WHAG is not merely for the elite,” Makgato said.

He said Mda’s work will be at home at the WHAG until January 2024.

“The exhibition opens on November 23, 2023, and will be on display until January 23, 2024, inviting art enthusiasts and the public to experience the richness of Mda’s artistic legacy at the WHAG,” he concluded.

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