By Nomali Cele
Good art is a tell-tale sign of the times. What makes this art good isn’t that it’s nice to look at or clear to understand, but rather that it’s honest. The honesty will be a valuable way to look at the time in which the work was made and exhibited. There have been a number of South African exhibitions recently that attempts to communicate the truth of now, where we have been and where we are going.
South African Exhibitions: INFINITE OPULENCE VOL 1
Jody Brand is a documentary photographer who has dabbled in youth culture. Her work centres women, LGBTQ+ people. Her work has previously brought a lens to the murder of Nokuphila Kumalo, who was a sex worker in Cape Town.
In her most recent exhibition, INFINITE OPULENCE VOL 1, Brand tackles generational trauma and healing from it. Officially described as, “an investigation of grief, “a putting together of dismembered past to make sense of the trauma of the present” in pursuit of transcendence.”
But Brand’s work, even when tackling difficult subjects, is arresting and beautiful to look at. Infinite Opulence Vol 1 is no different.
South African Exhibitions: The Art of Lithography: A Collaborative Expression of LL Editions
Curated by Boitumelo Tlhoaele and Tšhegofatso Mabaso at WAM, this exhibition, which ran from 25 September 2018 to 17 March 2019, points to a collaborative act practice and way of making work. Master Printer at LL Editions, Leshoka Joe Legate, has been working in his printmaking studio in Johannesburg since 2013, in that time, he has collaborated with numerous visual artists to bring their work to canvas.
The 24-artists line up of the exhibition included Nelson Makamo.
South African Exhibitions: A Black Aesthetic: A View of South African Artists (1970 – 1990)
This exhibition, curated by the Standard Bank Gallery’s curator and gallery manager, Dr Same Mdluli is a deep dive into the black South African visual canon. The special thing about this exhibition is that most of the work comes from the Fort Hare University collection.
If this work has generally only been viewed at Fort Hare (it hasn’t been exhibited outside the Eastern Cape since 1992), this exhibition is an opportunity for a bigger audience to see where we come from both historically and artistically.
South African Exhibitions: Options
Nolan Oswald Dennis is an artist working in drawing and installation. His recent exhibition, his second solo with the Goodman Gallery, “Options” has recently closed in Cape Town. It continues a thread that has become common in his work, questioning.
In an interview with writer Lindokuhle Nkosi for the Mail & Guardian on “Options”, this is what Dennis said, “The option thing for me is not about laying out options, cataloguing the possibilities, but taking the possibility of options as the starting point. Starting from the point that things are already multiple, already complex, already different … So starting from understanding the world as that, as opposed to trying to produce options.”
Dennis’s art does not promise answers or that you will understand it but it does spark thought.
These recent South African exhibitions left audiences thinking and their honesty makes them an interesting glimpse of today, the past and sheds a little light on where we are going.
Featured image from INFINITE OPULENCE VOL 1 by Jody Brand