1 January 2013 Archived
"Africana" is related in content and structure to two important works also created in 1990 and now in major public collections.
The Johannesburg Art Gallery's Exhibit: Ex Africa, a Victorian apron with collage in a 'black box' frame, like Africana, combines historically freighted found objects with representations of colonial history in the making. The Standard Bank's Always something new out of Africa is similar in structure in that it combines two parts, one placed above the other. The fact that it was selected for the invitation to the exhibition, The Art of Banking: celebrating through collections, indicates the high regard in which the artist and her works from this period are held.
All three form part of the body of work entitled History Paintings. Africana draws on textbook images of Boer War history, including human beings, elements of landscape, ox wagons and weapons, some isolated and others repeated. Several collage elements are pasted on cardboard and overlaid to create shallow relief. All are piled high into a bell shape.
Amongst the artist’s many concerns is a deep interest in the roles and representations of women throughout history. Images of women are interwoven throughout, adding to the dense narrative. Within the lower image the collaged background is created from an engraving of an old map of Africa, counter posed with a globe and a woman extending her arms, directing attention to what appears to be a gunpowder horn. According to the artist, she was informed on purchase that it was sourced from a Boer prisoner of war camp. ¹
Not only is this a powerful meditation on South African history but through its form, a reflection on the transmission and reception of ideas around nation and culture. Recognising her stature as one of South Africa’s leading contemporary artists and a celebrated lecturer, a major retrospective exhibition is being planned by Iziko South African National Gallery.
Text by Emma Bedford, Senior Paintings Specialist
Oil, collage and found object on board
107 x 75; 21 x 45 cm
R50 000 – 70 000
¹ Information supplied by the artist in an email to Emma Bedford, dated 17 November 2012.