New Acquisitions: Standard Bank Corporate Collection:
Now until 04 December 2017
at Standard Bank Art Gallery, Simmonds St & Frederick St, Johannesburg Central
Curated by Barbara Freemantle
The Standard Bank Corporate Collection boasts some impressive numbers: it includes more than 1200 works by over 250 South African artists. Given the size and scope of the Collection, it is not surprising that the diversity of South African art – both “historical” and “contemporary” – is represented. New Acquisitions, an exhibition of art works recently added to the Collection, condenses that variety.
Most of the pieces on display were completed in the last decade or so, but two notable exceptions are Job Kekana’s Madonna and Child (1938) and John Koenakeefe Mohl’s Sophiatown (c.1946). Steven Cohen’s untitled hand-coloured silkscreen print (c.1985) emerged during the state of emergency that marked the final years of the apartheid regime. A number of the more recent works participate, deliberately or coincidentally, in a “conversation with the past” – from Haroon Gunn-Salie’s bronze cast Sunday Best (2014), which invokes the forced removals from District Six in the 1970s, to Joni Brenner’s painting of the 300 million-year-old Taung skull. Claudette Schreuders’ sculpture Eclipse (2008) presents a mother-and-child pairing to echo Kekana’s, while Michele Mathison’s Breaking Ground (2014) may put some visitors in mind of Gerard Sekoto’s iconic 1947 painting Song of the Pick.
Experimentation in portraiture and self-portraiture, as well as in different methods of conveying the dynamic human form, connects the work of Lisa Brice, Churchill Madikida, Diane Victor, Paul Emmanuel and the Essop brothers, Hasan and Husain. Ghana’s Owusu-Ankomah and Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai offer perspectives from elsewhere on the African continent.
Standard Bank is strongly associated with arts sponsorship. Their art portfolio includes the National Arts Festival, Standard Bank Jazz, Standard Bank Young Artist Awards, Standard Bank African Art Collection and, of course, the Standard Bank Gallery. This exhibition gives visitors insight into one aspect of the bank’s commitment to the arts, but also presents an opportunity to reflect more generally on the complex dynamics of arts patronage. Why do we value the arts – and can we put a price tag on this value? What motivates companies, individuals and state institutions to sponsor an arts project or to purchase works of art? What are the advantages and risks of such an investment, and what kinds of responsibility come with it?
The Standard Bank Corporate Collection is displayed at Standard Bank premises around the country as well as in London and New York, but as curator Barbara Freemantle observes: “The role of art is not only to enhance a work environment, but also to contribute to our understanding of ourselves, collectively and individually, by exploring our identities, histories, hopes and fears.”
The Standard Bank Gallery – located on the corner of Simmonds and Frederick streets in central Johannesburg – offers free, safe undercover parking on the corner of Harrison and Frederick streets. Gallery hours: Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4.30pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. Entrance to the exhibition is free.
The Standard Bank Gallery will be open until 9pm for selected First Thursdays during 2017. For further info please contact 011 631 4467
Andrew Tshabangu | Footprints:
18 February to 29 April 2017
Curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe
As of 2017 the Standard Bank Gallery will participate in First Thursdays Johannesburg. First Thursdays is a free cultural experience where art galleries and other cultural attractions in Braamfontein, Maboneng and Rosebank stay open late on the First Thursday of every month.
Andrew Tshabangu: Footprints is currently on exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery and Tshabangu will host free walkabouts on First Thursdays during his exhibition.
In a career spanning more than two decades, Tshabangu has established himself as one of the most important photographers of and in contemporary South Africa – Johannesburg, in particular.
Tshabangu, who is compared to David Goldblatt and Santu Mofokeng photographs the lives of ordinary people and the exhibition narrates a series of impressions generated during Thsabangu’s daily excursions. He is as fascinated by religious pilgrimages and devout ceremonies as by more mundane rituals – daily activities like washing clothes, baking bread, carrying firewood, waiting for transport or brewing beer.
Tshabangu’s black-and-white photography moves beyond the documentary mode; realism merges with otherworldly elements as the photographer experiments with ways of seeing. We encounter the city of Johannesburg – its busy public scenes and its quiet domestic spaces – as well as peoples and places further afield.
The Standard Bank Gallery – located on the corner of Simmonds and Frederick streets in central Johannesburg – offers free, safe undercover parking on the corner of Harrison and Frederick streets. Gallery hours: Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4.30pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. First Thursday’s (2 March and 6 April) from 8am to 9pm. The walkabout by Andrew Tshabangu takes place at 7pm on both First Thursdays during the exhibition. Entrance is free.
Image: Diane Victor, Blind Faith, 2013