Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Remembering David Koloane

After spending his forty year-long career carving out a space for black artists in the global art world, 81 year-old Dr. David Koloane died at his home in Johannesburg last night.

With paintings, drawings, and mixed media collages depicting his home in Alexandra, and Johannesburg at large, Koloane encouraged the consumer to acknowledge the lived black experience through cityscapes and every day scenes in the township and the city.

In addition to his artistry, Koloane’s involvement in establishing black art strongholds and his ongoing work as a curator, teacher and mentor — during times when the art world excluded the public consumption of art by black artists — cemented his role as a hands on, revered voice in Africa’s artistic landscape.

In an unpublished 2018 interview with the Mail & Guardian’s Oupa Nkosi, Koloane explained where the need to create black spaces came from. “They used to call the work that we did as the township art because we were from the townships. Our work was excluded from the mainstream expression of what the whites were doing. So, we felt that we must do something to not to succumb to this idea of being labelled as township art and that we should remove it completely.”

In the interview, Koloane explained how a Pan Africanist focus helped establish the success of what then became the Bag Factory. “At that time in SA, it was difficult to bring different artists to work together. So, we started a workshop programme. Our intention was to bring different artist but mostly black artists to work together in South Africa… We were inviting artists from neighbouring countries from Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This was because we never had a contact with them before because of the system (apartheid). So gradually the Bag Factory took off,” explained Koloane.

Some of the efforts within Koloane’s legacy resulted in projects such as the Black Art Gallery, Thupelo workshop, Bag Factory studios along with exhibitions such as the Culture and Resistance Arts Festival in Botswana, the 1990 Zabalaza Festival in London, and the South African section of Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, in London. He also tutored at the Federated Union of Black Artists in addition to his curatorial work in exhibitions across the continent and the world that looked to build and fortify a black art network.

His tireless efforts saw him being awarded honorary doctorates from Wits University (2012) and Rhodes University (2015). This year sees his honor continuing through A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane. This travelling exhibition celebrates 40 years of Koloane’s artistic and intellectual contributions. Following its current stay at the Iziko South African National Gallery the show will travel to the Standard Bank Gallery and Wits Art Museum in October 2019.

With his work going beyond facilitating forums, festivals and associations, to provide many artists with a helping hand, the loss of Koloane leaves the art world hollow.

Robala ka kgotso Ntate David Nthubu Koloane. 

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa
Zaza Hlalethwa studies Digital Democracy, New Media and Political Activism, and Digital Politics.
Oupa Nkosi
Oupa Nkosi

Oupa Nkosi began taking photos in 1998 with a pawnshop camera, before enrolling at the Market Photography Workshop. He began freelancing after graduating and has since run community projects, won a Bonani Africa award, had his work selected for exhibitions in Zimbabwe and Japan, and been invited to international workshops. He began at the M&G as an intern and is now chief photographer. He also writes features for the paper and lectures at his alma mater.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

MK committee to look into Gupta influence in military veteran’s...

Party insiders say a report on the Guptas’ association with leaders of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association will help rid the structure of Jacob Zuma’s most loyal allies

More top stories

There is shit in the Hennops River: ‘No way you...

E.Coli counts in tributaries feeding the Hennops River run into tens of millions, far above the permitted limit

DarkSide: Following the money in the crypto age

Ransomware is the fastest-growing cryptocurrency-related crime. Known payments to ransomware attackers rose 337% from 2019 to 2020, when they reached over R5.4-billion worth of cryptocurrency

Naspers and Prosus in share swap Catch-22

Asset managers are concerned about the share exchange but others welcome it because Naspers has dominated the JSE

As South Africa’s Covid infections surge, the number of jabs...

Hospitals are under strain, nurses are burning out and infections are on the rise, but there are limited Covid-19 vaccine doses available
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×