A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane
A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane, a large-scale survey of work by the legendary South African artist, is now on view at Iziko South African National Gallery. Curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe, the exhibition spans the course of Koloane’s 40-year career, showcasing an extensive selection of artworks that interrogate the socio-political and existential human condition. Framing this presentation is a focus on Koloane’s broader roles as both an artist and educator, which attest to his incredible contribution to the advancement of South African visual arts during and after apartheid.
At the centre of A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane is Koloane’s unique aesthetic and visual vocabulary. Through his expressive, evocative and poetic work, Koloane has interrogated the socio-political and existential human condition, using the urban life of Johannesburg, a disparate city constitutive of suburbia and townships, as his subject matter. This is a Johannesburg that Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall dub the elusive metropolis, owing to its enduring restlessness, influx, mutation, affluence, poverty, ambivalence and challenges. Koloane’s representations of Johannesburg are populated with images of cityscapes, townships, street life, jazz musicians, traffic jams, ladies of the night, migration, refugees, dogs, and birds, among others. Imaginatively treated, through the medium of painting, drawing, assemblage, printmaking and mixed media, Koloane’s scenes are a blend of exuberant and sombre, discernible and opaque pictorial narratives.
In bringing this work together, the exhibition A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane bears testament to the artist as both witness and participant in the ongoing transformative struggle to make the (art) world a more hospitable place for black artists. The exhibition is also a celebration of Koloane’s contribution to South Africa’s national and cultural struggle, bestowing, in the words of Steve Biko: “the greatest possible gift” an artist can give its subject: “a more human face.” It is this gift that Koloane has shared with the world at large, a gift he continues to espouse at the age of eighty-one years. And it is his creative and intellectual gift in the form of artworks and written excerpts that this exhibition presents.
A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane runs until August 4, 2019, at Iziko before travelling to Standard Bank Gallery and Wits Art Museum in Johannesburg.
August 23, 2019