Thing of beauty: We Love Mandela exhibition

The works are in an exhibition titled We Love Mandela that opened on International Mandela Day (July 18) at Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square. Given the address and the timing, it would seem well placed to make maximum impact.

Exhibition curator Natalie Knight  said: “This is the third time I’ve done a Madiba birthday exhibition. This is particularly exciting, as we will be taking the exhibition to London in October.”

The exhibition features the work of 22 artists and pays tribute to Mandela through the mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing, bead work, photography and cartoons. It includes some of the most famous images we’ve come to associate with Mandela’s “journey”, such as Jürgen Schadeburg’s 1994 photograph of the man revisiting his cell on Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years of incarceration.

“I didn’t just want portraits of Madiba,” said Knight about the lesser-known works, “and I liked the fact that most artists depicted Mandela as a metaphor, portraying different facets of him.”

Such a depiction, by Susan Woolf, who recently won acclaim for her exhibition at the Wits Art Museum titled Taxi Hand Signs, has been used as the exhibition’s signature image.


“I created the work Mandela’s Sign using his iconic, popular raised fist,” Woolf said about her painting of a disjointed body part.

“Below that is drawn the blind sign, one that blind people would be able to ‘read’, when in a raised [braille] format.

“A second blind sign is seen again, broken into red and black shapes, making it unreadable and suggesting a view of apartheid with its separation and political blindness. In this artwork, Madiba’s recognition of the ‘other’ is paradoxically symbolised by the sign for blind people.”

Less obscure is famous photographer Michael Meyersfeld’s atmospheric photograph of the Nelson Mandela Bridge by night.

And even less obscure is a depiction, by bead worker Jane Makhubele, possibly inspired by an old newspaper photograph, of Knight meeting and shaking Mandela’s hand.

Painter and sculptor Wayne Barker, on the other hand, has exhibited his most famous work, titled Hope, with its serendipitous history. “It’s a work I did in 1994,” Barker recalls. “It was exhibited at the Colours exhibition in 1997 in Berlin, where I had the pleasure of meeting Mandela, who signed the work. At the point I made the work, South Africa was in a precarious situation. It deals with hope and initiation, from the horror of apartheid into a new era of reconciliation.”

Also on exhibition are cartoons that jibe by Jonathan Shapiro (aka Zapiro), a sculptural representation of Vilakazi Street (where Mandela lived) by Joachim Schonfeldt, and delectable depictions in beads and safety pins of Mandela’s shirts by Billy Makhubele, with wife Jane.

Others works on show include those by Kagiso Pat Mautloa, Collen Maswanganyi and David Koloane.

The exhibition comprises more than 70 works and is being shown at two venues: the Peacemakers Museum and Stephan Welz & Co Sandton Gallery. The exhibition runs daily until August 26.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Matthew Krouse
Guest Author

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…