Cecile Heystek
Bee in My Bonnet
South African beech,
beeswax, fake fur

Cecile Heystek
Ups and Doubts
Wood, teak frame, leather, wire

Cecile Heystek at the Johannesburg Civic

By Brenda Atkinson

Mutating brains in jars and perplexing sculptures made of indigenous wood are some of the array of objects Cecile Heystek produces to question the fate of the human psyche in a world of technological overload. The brain's chemical responses to this overload - amnesia, euphoria, and ecstasy - as well as the individual's capacity to adapt to cultural evolution are contextualised by Aldous Huxley's vision of a world in which people do not know why they are laughing, nor why they have stopped thinking.

Recently returned from a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, Heystek uses her new work to explore a grim view of a society she sees as on the verge of amusing itself to death. Ends June 15.

Johannesburg Civic Gallery, Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Phone (011) 403-3408; e-mail



Ezrom Legae
Chicken series (detail)
1977-78. Drawing on paper
Coll. SA National Gallery

Ezrom Legae at the Goodman

Last few days to view 'Remembering Legae', the memorial exhibition of one of the country's most influential and respected artists from the apartheid years. Ezrom Legae's sensitive drawings, often of animals, invariably carried a subtext of pain and oppression. The show closes June 5. Full review May ArtThrob; Linda Givon's tribute to Legae, January ArtThrob.

Goodman Gallery, 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm; Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm. Phone (011) 788-1113; fax: 788-9887; e-mail Website:



Lucas Matome with his

'Dirty City Clean City'

By Brenda Atkinson

Regular visitors to the Market Precinct in Newtown will be familiar with Lucas Matome's sculptural interventions in the city's cultural hub. A resident at the Africa Cultural Centre, Matome is an artist who inhabits the precinct and marks it with his work, often enlisting street kids from the area to make huge sculptural forms out of the detritus of urban Johannesburg.

Matome's aesthetic and ethical preoccupations are informed by his experience of Johannesburg, a city he sees as being in fundamental conflict with its users. Johannesburg's disjunctive jive is, for him, a result of each individual's failure to take responsibility for the space they inhabit and use. 'Dirty City Clean City' - an installation-in-progress in the Rembrandt Gallery space - is Matome's way of underlining reality and aspiration: using the waste products of his urban environment he is building two versions of the city of Johannesburg, one a decrepit agglomeration of waste; the other a more refined, better installed and resolved sculptural installation.

By acquiring waste and again involving street kids to make the installation, Matome is transforming the negative by-products of human neglect into a positive statement about the city in which he lives. Doing so in situ, of course, exposes the process to a "commuting" cultural public - theatre audiences must walk through the gallery in order to get to the upstairs theatre, and the view of Johannesburg through the huge arced window of the space provides a strong visual reference for Matome's process, which concludes with an "opening" on June 6.

Like the city itself, Matome's work unfolds as a transforming image, revealing itself in unpredictable ways, challenging us to see our beloved, contested and neglected city through at least partially clean eyes.

Next door in the Photo Gallery, viewers can see the results of the pinhole photography workshop run by Jo Ractliffe and Jean Brundrit at Nieu Bethesda at the beginning of this year as part of Ractliffe's 'End of Time' project. Until June 5.

Rembrandt Van Rijn Art Gallery, Market Theatre Precinct, Newtown. Phone (011) 832-1641; fax 834-2057; e-mail



Penny Siopis
The frontispiece for the
exhibition 'Truth Veils'

'Truth Veils'

By Kathryn Smith

'Truth Veils', at the Gertrude Posel Gallery, and 'Truth Veils: The Inner City', at the Market Theatre Galleries, open on June 14, the final day of the conference 'The TRC: Commissioning the Past' at Wits University.

In its two-year life span, the TRC has heard stories of drastic human rights abuses from over 20 000 victims thrugh written statements and public hearings. It remains to be seen whether the revised history it has provided will be a true foundation for reconciliation but it nevertheless has foregrounded crucial issues of responsibility, identity and justice.

'Truth Veils' is divided into three components. 'Historical', based on works that explore, or are silent about, issues raised in the TRC or related events, comprises various installations which include documents and other political ephemera which contextualise their historical and political significance. 'Reconstituted' presents "evidence" of work originally presented as site-specific installations/interventions in other exhibitions, and 'Contemporary' presents works by five artists specially commissioned for this exhibition.

Artists include Kevin Brand, Bongi Dhlomo, Michael Goldberg, David Goldblatt, William Kentridge, Tehobo Mhlatsi, Senzeni Marasela, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Ken Oosterbroek, Jo Ractliffe, Berni Searle, Johannes Segogela, Merryn Singer, Penny Siopis, Paul Stopforth, Sue Williamson, Clive van den Berg and others.

'Truth Veils: The Inner City' focuses on the social, political, economic, cultural and spatial conditions in inner-city Johannesburg, exploring the transition from an apartheid to a post-apartheid city. The exhibition is performative and interactive and includes work by artists, architects, film-makers and performers. They are Wayne Barker, Mark Dunlop, Titus Matiyane, Nhlanhla Mbatha, Martin Mitchell, Rodney Place, Robin Rhode, Joachim Schönfeldt, Kathryn Smith, Zem and others.

Both exhibitions close July 9.



Fiona Couldridge
Pandora's Box (moths)
1998 (detail)
Mixed media

Fiona Couldridge at the Johannesburg Civic

By Kathryn Smith

A recent MA(FA)graduate, Fiona Couldridge has created a contemporary version of the myth of Pandora’s box, opening at the Civic on June 22 and running until July 20. High-relief mixed-media paintings, crawling with all manner of insects and reptiles, explore motivations like fear, paranoia, aesthetics and desire. Ambivalence and curiosity come to the fore in works that are dangerously tactile and very seductive.

Johannesburg Civic Gallery, Loveday Street, Braamfontein. Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 8pm. Phone (011) 403-3408; e-mail



David Koloane
Faces in the Mirror 1999
Oil pastel on paper
29 x 42cm

David Koloane
Three Sisters 1999
Oil pastel on paper
29 x 42cm

David Koloane
Cityscapes 1999
Oil pastel on paper
29 x 42cm

David Koloane
Faces in the Mirror 1999
Oil pastel on paper
29 x 42cm

David Koloane
Cityscapes 1999
Oil pastel on paper
29 x 42cm

David Koloane at the Goodman

By Kathryn Smith

There are two exhibitions currently on in Johannesburg dealing directly with the inner city: the Market Theatre Galleries' 'Truth Veils: The Inner City' and 'Cityscapes and City Dwellers', David Koloane's very different take on inner-city existence. Content-wise, many of the ingredients are the same: we are faced with the aftermath of cheap thrills, glamour, and quick fixes to a myriad problems. Visually, the two shows could not be more different: where the mixed-media work presented on 'Truth Veils: The Inner City' foregrounds a performative, experiential take on city life (from artists and spectators alike), Koloane's work seduces and entices, drawing you in to its complex surfaces and twinkling neon detail, only to unravel in a noisy chaos of gridlock, prostitutes and smog.

The show's sub-themes of street scenes, make-up rituals, reflections, and the dog series provide Koloane with the opportunity to play observer and voyeur from various vantage points. City vistas and skylines (where not even his lurid technicolour sunsets can escape the smog hovering between the Hillbrow Tower and Ponte City) lurch alongside extreme close-ups of overly made-up faces. Lipsticked mouths with bared teeth threaten to swallow you whole, yet facial features remain generic and non-specific.

Many of the pastel drawings, which are reminiscent of cartoon story boards, are small and very accessible (conceptually and financially). There are no grandiose pretensions here - Koloane gets the most out of his medium with surfaces that are stitched together out of seemingly disparate scribbles. Light and sound become tangible, but remain fleeting and out of reach. The effect is one similar to channel-surfing - scrambled signals leave you impatient and these drawings seem to move too quickly.

These textured references extend to his titles - prostitutes on a street corner are called Three Sisters, which seems to hark back to Hillbrow's "safer" days. Cosmopolitanism (and a need for a strange validation?) is cynically intimated by his portrait of one of eGoli's more notorious landmarks in A la Ponte. The loud intensity of these images has its flipside in Scavengers. Koloane's metaphors become obvious here. Placed away from the rest, these monotone drawings of dogs in the gloomy twilight are the desperate underbelly of dubious sophistication and prosperity.

Koloane's images, like their protagonists, shout and vie boisterously for attention among themselves. The embodiment of accepted (and excessive) polarities of city existence, they offer a lighter relief from other desperately earnest (but no less sincere) work around this bastion of capitalism. The proverbial moth-to-a-flame mentality referred to by the artist gets a superficial makeover. Beguiling, perhaps. Enjoyable, yes. Smudged, definitely.

Until July 3. Goodman Gallery, 163 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm; Saturday, 9.30am to 4pm. Phone (011) 788-1113; fax: 788-9887; e-mail Website:



An earlier piece, titled
Regenerasie (Regenerate)
by participating artist
Antoinette Murdoch


'Renaicide/Mortenaissance' at the Millennium Gallery

By Brenda Atkinson

Featuring work by nine young local artists, including Ilse Pahl, Kathryn Smith, Alex Trapani and Antoinette Murdoch, 'Renaicide' cheekily hijacks the monolithic Da Vinci exhibition to comment on contemporary cultural issues. The critical basis of this energetic effort is the juxtaposition of the European Renaissance and its legacy in a country attempting to forge its own political, economic and cultural rebirth.

A few of the artists in the group are award-winners, and most have marked local visual culture in distinctive and challenging ways. House DJs helped the opening night audience to get into the groove.

Full review below. Ends June 11. Millennium Gallery, 75 George Storrar Drive, Groenkloof, Pretoria. Phone (012) 46-8217.



The invitation to

'Renaicide/Mortenaissance' reviewed

By Liese van der Watt

Violence, violation, techno-grafting, hybridity, transgression - undercurrents that disrupt the apparent seamless cycle of birth and death - are the themes chosen by nine young artists to frame an unusual response to the notion of the Renaissance with its ideals of progress, humanism and innovation.

Staged a few street blocks away from the acclaimed but rather disappointing Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in the Pretoria Art Museum, 'Renaicide/Mortenaissance' exposes the contradictions that the Renaissance managed to obscure so well. Conceived within a compact and dense conceptual framework - as is clear from the title of the show - these artworks comment on the inevitable interconnectedness of progress and destruction, humanism and inhumanity, birth and naicide (the murdering thereof). The ironies and contradictions inherent in that lofty ideal, some of which feminist art historian Mary Kelly addressed some 20 years ago by asking "did women have a renaissance?", are explored differently at the millennium in our African context.

These contradictions, or rather ambiguities, are laid bare by the problematic notion of an African Renaissance, a concept that simultaneously speaks of independence from and dependence on its European precursor, and mirrors, rather than severs, the relation Africa has had with the West. If the time has come, if the African Renaissance is here, it stands in a complex relation with the West: caught in a history of colonial dispossession and nationalistic reclamation, Africa and the West are inextricably bound, the one the conscience of the other, the West having to face up to its historical gluttony. Simultaneously the African version of the Renaissance expresses the need to invert Africa's role as victim of history to one where Africa has agency in writing and constructing its own histories.

It is this complex inversion of dependence and independence inherent in the African Renaissance which Wim Botha captures succinctly in his sculpted Mieliepap Madonna. Made from an African staple food, the mother of Christ, and therefore of life (at least in a Christian paradigm) is recast in an African context. In this way Africa is reinserted as the genesis of life, Maria inverted as a kind of Mrs Ples, the original mother of us all.

Kathryn Smith subverts the Renaissance emphasis on life by focusing on corpses, making reference to Leonardo, the anatomist. But unlike him, who studied corpses in the name of scientific pursuit of the human anatomy, Smith gives us reproductions of photographed tagged bodies and limbs in police mortuaries - excess awaiting identification on the margins of our violent South African society.

This absolute betrayal of the Renaissance ideal of humanism is taken further by Jacques van der Merwe, who has built one of Leonardo's designs for a war machine, invented to cut off legs. Van Der Merwe manages to problematise not only the notion of humanism but also that of technology and its bedmate, progress. The latter is taken up by Konrad Schoeman, in huge computer prints of cyborgs plotted over Leonardo's famous sketches of the human figure. These technologised beings offer alternative possibilities to Leonardo's concept of man as the measure of all things, postulating a post-humanist world rather than a rebirth of old values.

While not all the works succeed in engaging with the theme of the show - beyond somewhat casual references to birth and death in general - the project is a thoughtful and necessary response to an ongoing debate about our place in Africa and the mindscape we are giving birth to at the millennium.

Extended to June 18. Millennium Gallery, 75 George Storrar Drive, Groenkloof, Pretoria. Phone (012) 46-8217.



Leonardo da Vinci
Vitruvian Man

Leonardo da Vinci breaks records in Pretoria

Queues to get into an art exhibition? Must be a first in South Africa. By the middle of May, more than 25 000 people had filed through the doors of the Pretoria Art Museum to view 'Leonardo da Vinci: Scientist, Inventor, Artist', an internationally designed exhibition on the life and work of the Renaissance master.

Says the Pretoria Art Museum's Suzelle Botha: "People do not understand why we use the term 'attributed' in relation to Da Vinci's and Renaissance works. In the Renaissance, works were not signed and dated as they are today. Also, various artists would work together on a piece in a studio environment. There were very few paintings individual artists finished by themselves as the studio was really a school where the best way to learn was to participate in the real thing. The Bust of Christ, on this exhibition, is an example - Da Vinci studied sculpture under Verrocchio in this piece and one can see the shoulders belong to Verrocchio but the face is entirely Da Vinci's."

Other famous pieces on display are The Monna Vanna, The Phallic Head, The Angel in Flesh and Wax Horse. Says Botha, "Considering that there are only a dozen remaining artworks by Da Vinci in the world, this exhibition is exceptional."

See Brenda Atkinson's review in May ArtThrob. Ends August 1. Pretoria Art Museum, corner Schoeman and Wessels Streets, Arcadia, Pretoria. Website:




'Bitterkomix' at the Open Window

An exhibition of artworks and silkscreens by "the maverick makers of sour-poes satire" - Joe Dog, Conrad Botes and Lorcan White of Bitterkomix fame. Each has his own highly evolved graphic style, but all of them delight in ripping down the curtains of good taste and revealing unflinchingly what lies behind.

See Brenda Atkinson's review in May ArtThrob. Ends June 7. The Open Window Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria.



Leon Muller

Leon Muller at the Millennium Gallery

Leon Muller will open at the Millennium Gallery with a show called 'La vie et rien d'autre' (loose translation: 'Life and nothing else') on Monday, June 21 at 7pm. Guest artists at the opening will be opera singer Etienne van der Nest and pianist Hedwig Lombard. The show closes July 5.

75 George Storrar Drive, Groenkloof, Pretoria. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday 10am to 1pm. Phone (012) 46-8217.



Peter Sibanda
The Abundance of

Oil on canvas
99 x 79cm

'B(l)ack by Popular Demand' at the Open Window

By Kathryn Smith

Opening on June 23, this four-person show featuring Isaac Khanyile, Daniel Mosako, Peter Sibanda and Zondi Skosana should be interesting and worth a visit. The gallery has recently carried out renovations - including audacious pregnant columns designed by Anton Smit - which it hopes will make "challenging contemporary art accessible to a wider audience". Due to the gallery's success, it has recently expanded and acquired a new full-time curator and manager, Henk Serfontein. Watch this space for a review and a little more about this Erasmusrand art academy.

For more information contact Henk at (012) 347-1740/3 or e-mail Website:

Open Window Art Academy, 410 Rigel Avenue, Erasmusrand, Pretoria.



Sibusiso Maphumulo
Red Eye @rt Angel

Simon Mvunde
Wire basket


Red Eye at the Durban Art Gallery

The Durban Art Gallery celebrated the first anniversary of its hugely successful Red Eye programme with the purchase of the Red Eye @rt Angel by Sibusiso Maphumulo. This multi-media event is held on the first Friday of every month and is attended by well over a thousand people a time while giving a platform to new, young artists from all over the country. One of its aims has been to acquire art for the permanent collection of the Durban Art Gallery as the gallery has no acquisition budget of its own.

A woven basket by young artist Simon Mvunde is another purchase made possible by Red Eye, and extends the fine collection of grass baskets already owned by the gallery.

Red Eye this month falls on Friday, June 4.



Torsten Fehsenfeld
'Walking in My Shoes'

'Blur' and Torsten Fehsenfeld at the NSA

'Blur' juxtaposes the burned and scarified animal skins of Magwa Langa with Brigitta Gaylards' photographs of young whites at play in Durban nightclubs and poems by Kevin Payne. In the Durban Centre for Photography, Torsten Fehsenfeld exhibits a series of photographs entitled 'Walking in My Shoes'. All shows end June 3.

NSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood. Phone (031) 22-2293.

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