Artist Proof Studio: Rethinking what a future South Africa could look like

The Artist Proof Studio (APS) is a printmaking centre that offers holistic printmaking services to artists, and demystifies the printmaking process through interactive workshops and events. 

Printmaking has a long and storied history in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, through work by political parties and artist collectives such as the Medu Ensemble, and the genre was seen a counterforce to the suspicion and division left from the apartheid years. The Artist Proof Studio, created in 1991 by Nhlanhla Xaba and Kim Berman during South Africa’s early democratic period, originated from this moment. It has demonstrated the artists’ work over the years that they lead the re-thinking of what a present and future South Africa looks like.

This year, the APS celebrates 30 years of printmaking excellence and has moved into new premises in Houghton, from their original space in Newtown.

“Little could its founders, Kim Berman and Nhlanhla Xaba (who died tragically in a 2003 fire), have known when they created APS as a small knowledge and skills sharing space that three decades later it would be one of the most important engine rooms of South African fine art,” says Nathi Simelane, managing director of business and development at APS. “Conveniently situated near Jozi’s major transport routes, the new APS studio space in Houghton will allow the studio and its supporters and partners to keep delivering on this core ambition.” 

Working in the constraints of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the APS “embracing a new digital paradigm in terms of how it engages and develops students, and how it interacts with the broader arts community.

“In 2021, APS does a lot more than simply teaching talented youngsters how to make art. APS has played a central role in helping South African artists survive the hardships of lockdown, and continues to bring arts patrons, artists and young creative South Africans together to grow their mutual passion for art,” says Simelane.

At FNB Art Joburg, audiences can interact with this South African art institution through various pop-ups and events at Radisson Red in Rosebank. Look out for Artist Proof Studio’s Rebirthday exhibition, which showcases sold-out print editions from their archives and exciting new prints from top artists such as Sizwe Khoza.

The Artist Proof Studio’s FNB Art Joburg Open City pop-up event takes place this weekend.

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Youlendree Appasamy
Youlendree Appasamy
Youlendree Appasamy is a freelance writer and journalist based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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