The Standard Bank Gallery is exhibiting one of the country’s largest art collections by Black South African artists working between 1970 and 1990, A Black Aesthetic: A View of South African Artists.
Presented for the first time outside of the Eastern Cape since 1992, the artworks, which were selected from the University of Fort Hare art collection, were declared a national cultural treasure in 1998 and feature some of South Africa’s most revered artists, such as Gerard Sekoto, George Pemba, Dumile Feni and Gladys Mgudlandlu.
They include a wide range of disciplines such as etchings, woodcuts, linocuts, serigraphs, drawings, paintings and sculptures.
“A Black Aesthetic is an expansive exhibition that attempts to reposition their expression within the larger South African art historical narrative and start to build a more comprehensive historical account, one that will hopefully encourage future generations to engage with our rich heritage in the visual and creative arts,” said Dr Same Mdluli, the gallery manager and curator of the exhibition.
She said the exhibition features the works of black artists from various backgrounds whose works have historically been neglected.
“These works are a great record of painful experiences, memories and stories of black people in apartheid,” says University of Fort Hare’s national heritage and cultural studies centre curator Vuyani Booi.
Mdluli said among these artists were those whose works had influenced other artists and that influence extended beyond South Africa’s borders.
“Dumile Feni, for example, lived in both the US and UK and as a result, his work is more internationally acclaimed.
“As a result, a section of the exhibition is dedicated to Feni’s repertoire to illustrate the extent of his influence on style, aesthetics, and form,” she said.
Representing more than 150 creatives, the artworks range from resistance arts to abstract pieces and scenes of everyday life under apartheid.
A Black Aesthetic is a collection of three decades worth of work that explores other themes such as the contentious label of “township art”, a terminology that has been critiqued for its limitations in labelling and boxing black artists.
The Standard Bank Gallery is located on the corner of Simmonds and Frederick streets in central Johannesburg.
Visitors can get free, safe undercover parking on the corner of Harrison and Frederick streets.
- Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4.20pm and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm.
- Entrance to the exhibition is free and it will run until March 18.