Rotimi Fani-Kayode
Nigeria 1987

Mama Casset
Portrait of two men
Senegal 1955

Antoine Freitas
Kassai, Congo 1939

Focus on the photography of Africa

This month, a major show of photography from the vast continent of Africa reaches us from the Maison Européene de la Photographie in Paris, via the São Paolo Biennal, and spreads itself across the city's two largest venues, the South African National Gallery and the Cape Town Castle, before heading for the Barbican in London followed by Washington. At its Cape Town showing, 'eye Africa: African Photography 1840-1998' will receive additional South African representation. Organised by the editorial staff of Revue Noir in partnership with the SANG and the William Fehr Collection, the show opens on December 19.

The 350 photographs on show date from the earliest years of the introduction of the camera to Africa to the photojournalistic and more experimental work of today. Developments and changing stylistic tendencies in African photography are tracked through colonialism to post-colonial present. The show is split in this way: the SANG will cover the early years, showing such photographers as Antoine Freitas from Congo and Joseph Agbodjelou from Benin, the official press agencies from Guinea, Mali, Angola and Madagascar, and photographers who worked in the Sixties recording vibrant post-Independence city life, like Depara from Zaire and Sakaly from Mali.

At Block B at the Castle, the work of more recent African photographers will be found. Look for the astonishing self-portraits of Samuel Fosso of the Central African Republic, the poetic photo-essay on landscape in Madagascar by Ramily, the raw vision of Dorris Haron Kasco of Abidjan, the pursuit of shadows by South African Santu Mofokeng, and the search for a different ecstasy and black body representation by Rotimi Fani-Kayode of Nigeria.



'eye Africa' opens

Entering the 'eye Africa' exhibition through the long green room in the Cape Town Castle, the viewer is confronted by a series of portraits in black and white, each face more arresting than the last, the gaze of the sitters intense and luminous. These are the portraits of Ghanaian-born Cornelius Yao Augustt Azaglo, taken in the north of the Ivory Coast in the 1960s. The portraits are removed from the conventional support of the wall, and rest on sparely elegant metal stands, somewhat unevenly placed, like contemporary grave posts. Thus installed, the group gives the viewer the first of a series of contemplative moments provided by the exhibition, which fills not only the Castle but also the South African National Gallery.

"Photography", writes Michael Laidler in the catalogue forward, "allows the continent's collective memory to be captured in an eloquent, inimitable and arresting way. From the portraits of the 1950s to photo-journalism and the current search for new aesthetics, this exhibition shows an important part of people's lives and vision."

* Full review by Rob Meintjies in the January edition of ArtThrob.



Bobson Studio portrait c.1970

From Durban: Bobson Studio Portraits c.1970 and Lance Slabbert

Warwick Avenue in Durban gives access to the city's produce and Indian markets, a frenetically busy street of crowded daily commerce. It was here that the Bobson Studio operated, for 40 years turning out carefully posed portraits which would become part of the framed visual records of hundreds of families. Recently, photographer Lance Slabbert made prints from all the old negatives, and it is these which are on show at Area, together with large-scale street portraits made by Slabbert himself.

Tel: (021) 22-1321. Hours: Monday to Friday, noon to 6pm; Saturday, 10am to 2pm. Opening December 4.



Adam Welz exhibits
photographs from Madagascar

George Hallett
Debt Collector
At the District Six Museum

And then we have ...

In conjunction with the 'eye Africa' show, Pierre Sanner of Revue Noir has worked with a number of local galleries to provide an extensive and concentrated survey of South African photography. The following programme will be presented:

Mark Lewis: 'Pictures in a Room' at Picto Ifas, 11-13 Bree St. Tel: (021) 419-6290. Opening December 2

Dave Southwood at João Ferreira Fine Art, 80 Hout St. Opening December 14.

Adam Welz at the Pan African Market, Loop St. Opening December 15.

Photographs from the permanent collection, District Six Museum, Buitenkant St.

Alf Khumalo at the Alliance Française, 155 Loop St. Tel: (021) 423-5703. Gallery hours: Mon-Thurs, 9am-9pm; Fri, 9am to 5pm. Opens December 9.

Rashid Lombard at Wakamundo, 3-5 Clarens Road, Sea Point. Tel: (021) 439-2470. Gallery hours: Mon-Sun, 10.30am-5am. Opening December 19.



Dave Southwood
'In Between' series
Colour photographs

'In Between' - Dave Southwood

"It is the space between the images that is crucial, for this is where the viewer can play," says Dave Southwood of his aptly named exhibition. This is a small show, 11 pairs of finely considered photographic images hung at João Ferreira Fine Art. The relationship between the paired images is purely visual - the bodies of penguins cavorting in a mosaic bottomed pool are mirrored in their black and white randomness by sliding type on a wall in the image below. The curves and colours of a little girl in a balloon-filled room find an echo in a garish sign. Some pairings work better than others and thus elicit a stronger response, but overall the show is well worth a visit.

80 Hout Street. Phone (021) 423-5403; e-mail:



Vivienne Koorland
Blue Contents 1998
Oil on linen
126 x 112cm

Vivienne Koorland
Wannsee (detail)

Battle at Arras (detail) 1994
Oil, paper, tape and glue on linen
52 x 41.5cm

Vivienne Koorland at the UCT Irma Stern Museum

The title of this show, 'The Unquiet Image', is particularly apt. At first glance, the small scale of the works, the refined and delicate colourations ("I wanted to make a beautiful blue, a made blue that maybe didn't even appear to be blue, not a found blue," says Koorland of one work), the child-like drawings, the script in an old-fashioned hand, all seem to point to a body of work celebrating a gentle past. But a closer examination of the collaged elements, often newspaper pictures, tells a different story: SS soldiers at the scene of a mass grave of Polish officers; the plane that dropped the bomb at Hiroshima; the faŤade of the Villa Wannsee, where the Nazis held their conference on the final solution. Now the heavy layers of pasted canvas take on a more ominous sense of a buried history that will not be still.

Koorland is the daughter of a Holocaust orphan, and this immutable fact has directed her obsession with the past. Her work is an excavation of loaded images, of borrowed scripts and reworked drawings. "I am interested in the mythology of repeatedly reproduced images," says the artist, whose intention in using them is to place them in yet another context, to mediate the image through art. "When you look at this, what idea do you have about the original?" asks Koorland.

Vivienne Koorland studied in Cape Town, and now lives in New York. Her work was last seen on the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale. 'The Unquiet Image' runs at the Irma Stern in Rosebank until December 16. Tel: (021) 685-5686. Gallery hours: Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.



Stanley Hermans
Detail from the invitation to 'Now'

Stanley Hermans at the Lipschitz Gallery

"This exhibition," writes Hermans, "celebrates change, diversity and variety. Harmony, discord and conflict as consequences of this kind of juxtaposition, are celebrated as being splendidly inevitable.

"I also celebrate being at home, with friends and family in Cape Town, a city that has been most loyal and kind in its support of those of us who make art for a living. It is a deeply satisfying experience to feel welcome here, in a world that we now constitute a formal part of."

View the work which is the visual expression of this upbeat artist's statement at the Lipschitz from December 7, when the show will be opened by city arts administrator Delysia Forbes at 6pm. 138 Buitengragt St. Tel: (021) 422-0280. Hours: Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Website:



Sue Williamson
'Truth Games' series:
'As a mother': Confrontation
over Stompie
Mixed media
86 x 120 x 6cm

Sue Williamson at João Ferreira Fine Art

In its final 10 days at this handsome white space is 'Truth Games', the artist's attempt to provide a kind of visual documentation and mediation of a few of the hundreds of cases which came up before the TRC. Each case took the participants through a journey, which on rare occasions ended in true reconciliation. Fragments of images, gazes which meet or are averted, scraps of moveable text taken from press reports, hint at the complex whole. Closes December 12. 80 Hout St. Tel: (021) 423-5403. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 2pm; Sunday, 2pm to 6pm.


Karl Gietl
'It's a Small World After All' series

Karl Gietl's Small World

Opening on December 13 at João Ferreira Fine Art is 'It's a Small World After All'. This show marks the first Cape Town solo exhibition for the current winner of the Volkskas Atelier Award, Karl Gietl. The paintings are all small-scale, random glimpses of moments in human existence, a view of the Johannesburg skyline, an instant of street theatre. With these unpretentious and likeable little paintings, Gietl gives us his take on the day-to-day realities of his existence. 80 Hout St. Tel: (021) 423-5403. Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 2pm; Sunday, 2pm to 6pm.



Clive van den Berg
Frontier Erotics series
Oil on canvas
310 x 400cm

Clive van den Berg at the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet

Last chance to see 'Frontier Erotics', Clive van der Berg's visual recasting of the history of the battles of our land. Small paintings celebrate the once forbidden subject of love between men, and in the larger space at the Cabinet, an evocative video projection of burning veld and running men crackles its way along at the top of a constructed slope of real grass. This installation provides a strong visual link with Van den Berg's earlier interventions on the sides of minedumps. Closes December 9.


A recent work by
Louis Jansen van Vuuren

Art Salon

If it's Art Salon time at the Bay Hotel, Christmas must be just around the corner. Art consultant Rose Korber shows work in a variety of media by some 75 South African artists, this year making her favourite charity (10% of proceeds) the cash-struck South African National Gallery. SANG director Marilyn Martin opens proceedings on December 5 at 6pm. Daily 10am to 10pm until December 17.


Zwelethu Mthethwa
and Willie Bester
Guardian Angels I
Mixed media

Willie Bester and
Louis Jansen van Vuuren
Contemporary Forbidden Fruit
(detail) Oil on canvas

Zwelethu Mthethwa, Willie Bester
and Louis Jansen van Vuuren
Phillipi II
Mixed media

Willie Bester, Zwelethu Mthethwa and Louis Jansen van Vuuren at the AVA

This show is a bit like one of those films where everyone sleeps with everyone, and the interest lies in observing the different energies produced by each participant in the varying combinations. Bester is known for his intensively and often roughly constructed images commenting on social issues, utilising every kind of found object; Mthethwa is a photographer of note, and with a brilliant, often harsh palette of pastels, records moments of contemporary African life; Jansen van Vuuren also works in pastels, using an Impressionistic palette to treat us to sun-kissed exteriors as glimpsed from flower-filled rooms.

Here, each artist does some of that. But then Mthethwa's pastels appear in Bester's frames. Van Vuuren takes a series of photographs of domestic detail of township architecture we might have attributed to Mthethwa. Mthethwa takes photographs of a Phillipi street, prints them large on cotton paper and, in versions hung side by side, Van Vuuren and Bester work on top to give two very different readings. This series works quite well, but some of the collaborations seem a little forced, as if one of the artists has said to the other, "These are your squares, put your bits here", and the whole doesn't quite fit together. Play spot the artist at the AVA from Wednesday December 9.


Matthew Haresnape
Domicile I 1998
Angle iron, corrugated iron,
found objects, metal rods,
148 x 110 x 38cm

Matthew Haresnape at the Mark Coetzee Fine Art Cabinet

"My art is concerned with living spaces, both real and psychological. The materials used (old corrugated iron, spades, resin, found objects) deliberately allude to the vast social and political divide that exist within our society." So says Matthew Haresnape in this month's issue of SL magazine, which has chosen one of his pieces as artwork of the month. Catch his show 'Dwelling' at the Cabinet from Wednesday December 9. 120 Bree Street. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 12 to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 2pm.


Janni Donald
Will Project (detail)
Felt, wire, mesh

Gerhard Marx
Animation of a
Single Frame

Mixed media

An installation by
Wendy Beck

End-of-year show at Michaelis

The December show at the Michaelis School of Fine Art is always worth a visit, even if one generally ends up with a slight feeling of exhaustion at having to witness so much earnestness, so much overwork, so much thrashing around for "meaning". It's all part of the process of starting out in art, and probably after a couple of years in the real world a lightness of touch will set in.

One of the most cohesive presentations was Vanessa Carling's The Mending Series, a fine series of colour photographs of rotting fruit stitched and wired together. Janni Donald's Will Project, with its felt-covered rabbits and stacked silver mesh cages, was strong enough formally and conceptually to be worthy of note: with its references to laboratory experimentation, the piece could be read in a number of ways. In Gerhard Marx's room, though some pieces leaned perilously towards kitsch, others, such the piece used for the Michaelis poster image, Animation of a Single Frame - a construction of thin cardboard cutouts on rods, electric fans to move them, and lights to cast shadows on the wall behind - were inventive and charming enough to hold the attention for a considerable time.

The exhibits are all over the Michaelis campus in Orange Street, and the exhibition is open Monday to Fridays from 10am to 3.30pm until December 23.



Mayeye Makhubele
President Mandela (detail) 1998
Beads on cloth
100 x 120cm


'Minceka' at the Goodman Gallery

"We are proud to present a tribute to the Makhubele family," writes the Goodman Gallery, "who over the years have documented and illustrated the history of South Africa in beads and safety pins. Not only have they enriched the culture of the Shangaan people by carrying on a traditional and elegant embellishment of the nceka, but they have also presented an illuminating historical survey of this land." Examples of the best minceka can be found in most national art collections.

Also on show are painted wooden angels and other figurations from the hand of Johannes Mashego Segogela. Tel: (011) 788-1113. Until December 19, after which the gallery will close until January 12.



Isaac Nkosinathi Khanyile
Mixed media

Isaac Nkosinathi Khanyile at the Civic Gallery

The 1996 Volkskas Atelier winner holds his first solo exhibition in Johannesburg, and demonstrates his crossover style in drawing together the threads of traditional culture and craft work with a contemporary sculptural aesthetic. Tel: (011) 403-3408, ext.125. Gallery hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 10pm.



Jane Alexander
Street Cadets with Harbinger:
Wish, Walk/Loop Long
Installation detail
Mixed media

'Bringing Up Baby' at the Standard Bank Gallery

Extensively reviewed in ArtThrob (see Issue 11) when this show opened in Grahamstown and moved to the Cape Town Castle, 'Bringing Up Baby: Artists Survey the Reproductive Body' not only has an excellent catalogue but its own website. None of this means that all this info is any substitute for viewing the show in person. In conception and breadth, on the whole, it was one of the year's standouts.



Paul Edmunds
Cumulate 1998
Paper, glue, insulation board

Julia Clark
The Winged Pair (detail) 1997
DAS Pronto, fabric, silkscreen

'Family Ties' at the Sandton Civic Gallery

This is the third annual PG Glass Young Artist Exhibition, designed not only to encourage the emerging artists of this country, but also, through the proceeds of a silent auction of the work, to provide funds for Streetwise, an organisation which attempts to reconcile street children with their families. Artists participate at the invitation of the curators, Penny Siopis and Ricky Burnett, and the exhibition provides the opportunity for would-be art collectors to bid for works by artists who are beginning to make their mark on the art world.

Among the works on show is Cumulate by Paul Edmunds, a filigreed organic oval form created by the painstaking gluing together of thousands of strips of an old National Geographic magazine.

The exhibition closes December 30.




Group show at the Millennium Gallery

Pretoria's most progressive small gallery finishes its year with a group exhibition. The following artists will be exhibiting: Anton Smit, Frikkie Eksteen, Lynette ten Krooden, Gwen Miller, Pieter Swanepoel, Michael Heyns, Diek Grobler, Norman Catherine, Marna Schoeman and Margaret Gradwell. Opening December 7.



Nhlanhla Xaba


Nhlanhla Xaba at the Durban Art Gallery

The Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year shows paintings which reflect the artist's deep response to the changing cultural patterns of his country, and mirror his experience.


Lyn Smuts
SoundPrint (detail) 1998

Detail of sonar printout,
made by Louis Lenhoff of
the CSIR


Lyn Smuts, Ingrid Winterbach and Rebecca Tetley at the Dorp Street Gallery

Central to Lyn Smuts' work on the Dorp Street Gallery show are sensitively worked etchings based on sonar landscapes - sound records of the beds of oceans. "A little rocket-shaped unit called a 'fish' is dragged behind a boat. It has an 'eye' on either side from which sound waves are sent through the water to read the ocean floor. Upon encountering any object/texture, the reflections/echoes sent back up are recorded graphically on metres-long prints. I find the whole issue of perception and reading of landscape fascinating. Remember how people used to believe the eye sent out rays that 'created' what one saw? These sound waves really are doing just that," says Smuts.

In the past, Smuts, who is also a sculptor, has worked with the vibrations of tuning forks and made etchings from the impact of bodies on soot-encrusted paper. Here, she collects impulses and echoes from the environment and uses these to reconstruct a graphic landscape.

Ingrid Winterbach, who under the pen name of Lettie Viljoen has received considerable literary acclaim for her novels, shows drawings in which the table and the open book are recurring motifs. These drawings often form a series, with one image developing from the previous one.

The third artist on the show is Rebecca Tetley, whose ceramics have been described as "the painter's pottery". Here, Tetley shows unglazed pinched and coiled porcelain pots, in which her designs have been applied at the green stage.

Opening December 2 at 176 Dorp Street. Tel: (021) 887-2256.


A Brett Murray light
in steel and perspex


Brett Murray at the A.R.T. Gallery

Right in time for Christmas, Brett Murray puts up a glowing array of his iconic lights at the A.R.T. Gallery in Paarl. The buyers from Swedish furniture giants Ikea went mad about these lights recently, so get in now before they all glow north. The gallery is on Parys Farm, Van Riebeeck Drive (R303), Huguenot,Paarl. Tel: (021) 872-7514. Weekdays, 9am to 5pm; Saturdays, 9.30am to 3.30pm.



Lesley-Anne Hoets
Black Lace Curtains
Raku fired ceramic
20 x 30cm


Group show at the Knysna Art Gallery

Holiday viewing: work focusing on a theme of "windows" - either constructed or metaphorical - by a group of artists resident in the Knysna area. Participants include Lolly Hahn-Page, Leslie-Anne Hoets, Wesley Ngethu and Hanlie van Niekerk. The Knysna Art Gallery, Old Gaol Complex, Queen Street. Tel: (044) 382-7124. Gallery hours: Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 4.30pm; Saturdays, 9.30am to 1pm.

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