KNYSNA NEWS - “Artists will always make visible the unseen in our society. They transform the vagaries of political machinations and corruptions into images and experiences that make us more sensitive to these, while allowing for other interpretations.” So says curator Stefan Hundt about Centennial: A Century of South African Art from the Sanlam Art Collection 1918 – 2018, a once-in-a-lifetime, one-of-a-kind exhibition opening at Knysna Fine Art gallery on 12 September at 18:00. The exhibition will be open until 28 September .
It features some of the country’s foremost celebrated and emerging talent – the likes of Richard Mudariki, Tracey Rose and Ndikumbule Ngqinambe – and takes viewers on a journey through 100 years of SA’s history, through the prestigious works that comprise the Sanlam Art Collection.
The Sanlam Art Collection, established in 1965, is among the most respected in the country, and consists of more than 2 000 items.
This is the third time in 20 years that Knysna Fine Art is showcasing a selection of pieces from the collection, in a unique exhibition of over 70 works.
“Usually, corporate collections are inaccessible to the public and hidden in an office environment. From the get-go, Sanlam has consciously prioritised doing the opposite. Art is something for us to share, challenges us, to take delight in, and educate ourselves. It’s a critical part of our history and something we all need to have the opportunity to explore,” said Hundt.
Wandering through the exhibition is a way to be immersed visually in this journey, from challenging works from legends like William Kentridge, Elza Botha, Maggie Laubser, Gerard Sekoto, Sydney Kumalo, Ezrom Legae, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Cecil Skotnes and Irma Stern to fresh perspectives from Johannes Maswangani, Adam Letch and Jan van der Merwe, said Hundt.
Today’s audience might gravitate towards relevant works from Tracey Rose, whose work incorporates aspects of performance art, focusing on identity politics, gender, racial and sexual-based themes. Richard Mudariki’s The Model takes a historical colonialist icon, Cecil John Rhodes, to explore the theme of decolonisation and the role of visual artist targeted by the #RhodesMustFall movement. Centennial captures the spirit of a nation moving forwards, while being realistic about the challenges of today.
Hundt concludes, “This exhibition is a way to immerse people in some of the biggest shifts our nation has seen, told by the artists who have advocated for change. Art has played a crucial role in the realisation of a democratic and free South Africa and it’s as much a way to negotiate our differences as it is to create a shared vision for our future.”
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