South Africa: trying to recover anti-apartheid art

This video is about apartheid era posters.

Reuters reports:

S Africa hunts for lost apartheid-era black art

South Africa is scouring the globe to recover lost works by black artists that depict the turbulent apartheid era, in a drive to educate young people about the struggle against white rule.

Vivid paintings of Zulu warriors and strife-torn black townships were shunned as too controversial, or simply too African, by mostly white South African art collectors under apartheid. Some were even banned.

But many paintings were quietly snapped up by foreign diplomats or visitors and spirited out of the country to adorn the walls of homes and boardrooms around the world.

The Ifa Lethu foundation, supported by the ministry of culture, is trying to bring those works back to South Africa to display them in a touring exhibition of schools and community centres.

“This is about inspiring South Africans and forcing both black and white to confront their past and to celebrate what we have been able to achieve despite all the pain,” Ifa Lethu chairwoman Mamphela Ramphele told Reuters at the project launch in Soweto.

The travelling exhibition is also meant to educate young South Africans about the country’s violent struggle against white rule and the sacrifices made by their parents’ generation.

“It is making people aware of who they are and where they come from,” said jazz maestro Hugh Masekela, who is backing the project.

“If you don’t know where you come from then you don’t know where you are going.”

Australian’s donation

The project first started when Australian diplomat Diane Johnstone donated a collection of 17 art works, amassed during a posting to South Africa in the violent 1970s, to the Pretoria Art Museum.

That inspired a wider hunt for similar works.

Anti apartheid art in the USA: here.

From the Google cache, 1/31/05:

South African artist’s work finally comes home

Feni is one of South Africa’s leading artists

January 31, 2005, 13:30

He is hailed as one of the biggest African artist of the twentieth century. Yet most of the late Dumile Feni’s art work that was done in exile and has not been seen by a South African audience. But that is changing.

An exhibition of more than 360 samples of Feni’s art work was opened last night at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Private collectors and galleries in the USA and Europe contributed to make the exhibition possible. Many well known South Africans were there, not only to admire the work of an artist, but also to remember a friend.

This retrospective exhibition documents his work through four decades. Although he left the country in 1968, he remained an activist through his art. Feni died in 1991 in New York before he could return to his home country.

The exhibition will tour the country for the next year and a half.

Source: SABC

Hugh Masekela

A Few Words About the June 16th Soweto Student Uprising: here.


7 thoughts on “South Africa: trying to recover anti-apartheid art

  1. Martin Meredith: “Nelson Mandela, a Biography.” Penguin Books, London, 1997.

    p.414 Congress; United States of America.

    “Western leaders – President Bush in Washington, Prime Minister Thatcher in London, President Mitterrand in Paris, Chancellor Kohl in Bonn, the Pope in Rome – all accorded him with a warm welcome. He became the first private black citizen to address a joint session of the United States Congress. Politicians and show business personalities alike vied to be seen in his company. Special events were organized to celebrate his visits – a ticker-tape parade in New York, a pop concert in London, a grand ceremony on the terrasse of the Trocadéro in Paris.

    The only time Mandela stumbled on his triumphal progress was when he decided to air his views on international affairs. In the United States, he spoke admiringly of the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, and the Libyan leader, Colonel Gaddafi, the foremost bogymen of the United States administration. – – – – but both had given him support to the ANC, so Mandela singled them out for praise: ‘There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation hailing their commitment to human rights.’ When questioned on television about the morality of ignoring human rights violations in countries like Cuba and Libya, he replied, ‘We are a liberation movement, which is fully involved in a struggle to emancipate our people from one of the worst racist tyrannies the world has seen. – – – – – -.’

    The effect of these remarks on Mandela’s reputation was instantaneous.

    ‘You could positively hear his Q-factor-

    the attractiveness quotient with which America rates its celebrities

    – – crashing through the floor,’

    reported one correspondent.”


  2. Williamson, Sue: “Resistance Art in South Africa.”

    David Philip (Publisher (Pty) Ltd, Claremont, SA, 1989.

    p. 133, “Desperate” Linocut on paper, 20 x 30 cm.

    “Desperate” recalls the government demolitions of the squatter camps of Modderdam and Unibell, where ‘even the children were bulldozed.’

    P. 132, The brothers Patrick and Sydney Holo are two of the founder members of the Nyanga Arts Center, Cape Town.

    [ . . . ]

    Patric Holo himself cuts his linocuts at home, but uses the press at the Centre to make his prints. His themes are sometimes biblical, but most often reflect township life. He describes the thoughts of the man sitting at his kitchen table in “Umtitled” [ref. to picture] like this:

    “I can get a job whether I’m inside or outside . . . it’s better inside, at least they’re feeding me. If I’m outside, I’m going to do something bad. I’m starving.”


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