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David Koloane’s retro, an unforgettable experience

Image credit: ARTnews

By Andile Mngxitama

Last night I attended the opening of “A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane” at the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. Dr Koloane is one of the super elite artists in South Africa (SA). He passed away on 40 June this year after an illustrious 40 years career.

The retro is curated by the art historian Dr Thembinkosi Goniwe. His speech was one of the best that I had ever heard. I’m still moved by the speech. I hope it gets uploaded on YouTube soon.

Dr Goniwe’s ten minutes speech compressed our 500 years of hell since the black white encounter. He did this by reading expressions of the “ordinary life” in Koloane’s work. There was a sense that Goniwe was asking his audience to ponder on the question of the oppression of blacks and the possibility of ordinariness. Can the oppressed be ordinary or is this ordinariness an expression of something extraordinary?

He then forced us to think about black labour and social death! He brought this sordid history, dripping with the blood of blacks, right inside the gallery. I could feel the weight of spines tensing. Through the beauty of Koloane’s work we are brought to the possibility of seeing better and being braver.

Later as the jazz band played, one interfaced with the art work with a different energy.

I’m skeptical about the uses of mainstream art. But ja, when you are in Joburg Central, go to the Standard Bank Art Gallery and have a look at this exhibition. It runs from 4 October to 6 December this year.

Goniwe is a brave and highly gifted man of the arts. A great displacing tribute to the great legacy of David Koloane who must be proud, looking down from above.

Andile Mngxitama is the President of the black consciousness organization, Black First Land First (BLF).