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Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Rediscover an iconic South African artist: Dumile Feni

The Beauty of the LineGallery MOMO in Cape Town recently held a special exhibition of South African artist Dumile Feni’s work, including many never-before-seen pieces.

This exhibition rekindled interest in one of South Africa’s most iconic artists, stressing the importance of Chabani Manganyi gripping biography The Beauty of the Line: The Life and Times of Dumile Feni.

This book is a celebration of an eminent South African artist, who carved a place for himself, in art circles in South Africa and abroad.

The subject of diverse interpretations, Feni was a larger than life figure whose reputation as an artist is evidenced by his captivating sculptures, drawings and sketches.

With skilful narration, Manganyi weaves intimate stories from Feni’s friends and acquaintances such as Hugh Masekela, Willie Kgotsisile and Louis Maqhubela, who reflect on his personal challenges and how these impacted on the creative processes behind his artistic flare. The author’s portrayal of the famed artist will engage and entice the readers into the nooks and crannies of Dumile Feni’s life, and the expressive power of his art.

Feni’s work is featured on many respected platforms. Have a look at his work by visiting some of these art websites:


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Ashraf Jamal Draws Parallels Between Dumile Feni and Frantz Fanon

The Beauty of the LineA sculpture by the late Dumile Feni sold for R6 million at the Cape Town Art Fair last year, and a current exhibition of his work, including never-seen-before pieces – turned heads at Gallery MOMO in Cape Town recently.

In a piece for Financial Mail, Ashraf Jamal hails Feni’s “visceral, charged, agonistic” art, which he says “captures a prevailing unfinished story of inequality and dehumanisation”.

Jamal compares Feni, who died in 1991 of a heart attack in his favourite record store in New York, to both Frantz Fanon and William Kentridge, commenting that despite his “ferocity”, the “Goya of the Townships” is also big business.

Read Jamal’s article:

For art professor Anitra Nettleton, Feni “never seems to have softened his approach in order to pander to the sentimentalist demands of the white-dominated market in SA”.

And yet, at this moment in time, one finds a curiously voyeuristic interest in the suffering of others, particularly the suffering of the black body which Feni, through his art, and Frantz Fanon, through his writings, sought to liberate from its chains. One cannot therefore ignore the fact that Feni’s impressively moulded busts, with their high-Modernist sheen, would look very nice indeed in a corporate setting.

As for the drawings, they reminded William Kentridge, as a little boy, of “down and out scarecrows. But when you came within a few feet of them they would give you a kick in the guts.” All well and good, but Feni is also big business. Kentridge, after all, was greatly inspired by Feni’s charcoal drawings, though his art has never conveyed Feni’s ferocity.

Watch a video taken at the exhibition:

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The Legacy of Brigalia Bam Preserved with a R93 000 Oil Painting at NMMU

Democracy - More Than Just ElectionsDr Brigalia Bam dedicated 12 years of her life as the head of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and during this time she played a definitive role in elevating the organisation’s reputation and stature.

Her appointment at the helm of the IEC in 1999 after the resignation of Judge Johan Kriegler came at a time of great pressure – months before the second democratic elections – and was met with much skepticism and criticism. Bam, however, proved the critics wrong and developed an organisation that was true to its promise of a free and fair election.

To read more about this dynamic woman and the inner workings of the IEC, read Bam’s autobiography Democracy – More Than Just Elections, in which she makes a case for electoral reform in post-apartheid South Africa.

To celebrate the role that Bam played in our democracy, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University commissioned an oil painting of her from South African artist Rina Badenhorst. The painting sold for $6 526 (about R93 000). Bam was the Chancellor of NMMU when it was still the University of Port Elizabeth and it is thus fitting that her history should be preserved in the halls of the institution.

View the painting and read more about the artist:

Rina Badenhorst considers herself as a colourist – no light, no colour. The relationships of colour form the backbone of my work and teaching. Over the decades I have developed from strong expressionism in colour to shades of colour, subtleties that translate light.

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Don’t Miss Never-Before-Seen Work by Legendary Artist Dumile Feni at Gallery MOMO

The Beauty of the Line: The Life and Times of Dumile FeniGallery MOMO Cape Town is currently exhibiting works by iconic South African artist Dumile Feni.

The exhibition opened on 22 October and runs until 28 November, with a closing event on Thursday, 26 November, at 6 PM.

Renowned artist Sam Nhlengethwa chatted to ArtThrob about Feni, who he met in 1991 shortly before his passing:

What was it like meeting Dumile in New York? What do you remember of this special encounter?

I couldn’t believe it. I was attending the Triangle Workshop in New York and he came to see me, the only artist from South Africa at the workshop. Dumile spent some time at the workshops seeing what all the artists were busy working on. After this visit he gave me his contact details and invited me to meet up with him. We went to explore the neighbourhood of Harlem. Dumile also bought two of my paintings and introduced me to a collector who also bought some of my work. He was also intrigued to find out what South Africa was like then in 1991. So I told him the reality but clarified that “there was light at the end of the tunnel”. [...]

Watch Gallery MOMO’s video on the exhibition:

YouTube Preview Image

Gallery MOMO Cape Town is delighted to be exhibiting works by the iconic South African artist, Dumile Feni. Feni captured the imagination of viewers through his depictions of the pain experienced by South Africans in the late 20th century. Feni is described as the ‘Goya of the townships’, alluding to his ability to depict the daily struggles experienced in South Africa during the apartheid era. The exhibition will consist mainly of Dumile Feni’s sculptures, some of which have never been seen before.

As Chabani Manganyi elaborates: “There was no way of stopping him once he had made up his mind. He overcame the most extraordinary social, political and personal obstacles to leave South Africa and the world with an outstanding artistic legacy” (Manganyi, 2012:49).

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 22 October to Saturday, 28 November 2015
  • Time: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Venue: Gallery MOMO Cape Town
    ORO Africa Building
    170 Buitengracht Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • More information: Facebook

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Gary van Wyk: “George Hallett Introduced Me to Documentary Photography”

Moving in TimeIn a recent Cape Argus article by Nontando Mposo, Gary van Wyk shares the story of his journey to becoming a photographer.

Van Wyk, who is now collaborating on the third season of Adrian Steirn’s 21 Icons, says that Steirn is not the first great photographer to inspire him. He first got the idea to become a photographer on a beach next to the Caribbean Sea when he saw a photographer preparing to capture an image of a particularly amazing sunset.

George Hallett was another important influence in Van Wyk’s development. Hallett, who is the author of Moving in Time: Images of Life in a Democratic South Africa, has been called one of South Africa’s “finest living black photographers”.

Read the article:

“I started my internship at the Cape Argus in 2003. I was supposed to be there for only two days but I stayed for five years. When Cape Town photographer George Hallett introduced us to documentary photography, I jumped at it … it just made sense to me,” he says.

“It was the best training and experience I could have asked for. I learnt how to shoot under pressure. It was the best way of learning … the best thing that ever happened to me.”

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Dumile Feni’s Sculpture, “The Prisoner”, Sells for R6 Million – Breaks all Previous Art Sales Records

The Beauty of the LineA sculpture by the late artist Dumile Feni has been sold for R6 million at the recent Cape Town Art Fair.

An anonymous buyer broke the record for the highest price fetched by an artwork when he bought the sculpture entitled The Prisoner, a figure of a nude black man with his hands held behind his back.

The lifestyle magazine Blaque reported that the work was sold by the Johannesburg-based art gallery MOMO where Feni’s work in exhibited.

For more on the art and creativity of Feni, have a look at Chabani Manganyi book The Beauty of the Line: The Life and Times of Dumile Feni.

Read the article:

The work was sold by Jozi Gallery MOMO on behalf of the late artist’s estate. Art dealer, Monna Mokoena, who runs the only ivy league black owned gallery in the country said the sale ‘marked an slow emergence of new art buyers in the market’. Historically, the sale of work at this price level has been the exclusive preserve of big institutions, businesses and wealthy old white men.

The sale of the nude sculpture of a black male figure coincides with the launch, at the Cape Town Art Fair, of the Black Collectors Forum. It’s an organisation aimed at helping aspirant black art collectors to enter the game.

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Reflecting on the Life and Art of Dumile Feni and His Relevance in South Africa Today

The Beauty of the LineMoving in TimeThe recent exhibition of the works of Dumile Feni at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg has sparked some interesting conversations and renewed interest in the artist.

Feni is the subject of The Beauty of the Line: The Life and Times of Dumile Feni. Photographs of Feni and his works, taken by George Hallett, author of Moving in Time: Images of Life in a Democratic South Africa, were also featured in the exhibition.

Stefanie Jason wrote an article for the Mail and Guardian in which she considers what Feni work and the recent exhibition highlighted some important issues about the struggle of being black.

Read her article:

There’s a disturbing back story to how a well-known Dumile Feni sculpture came to be. It’s the story of what inspired the artist’s famed sculpture History, which is mounted at the entrance to his latest exhibition. Just like its back story, the charcoal-coloured statuette is as perturbing, as a naked figure, down on all fours and with a horse bit in its mouth, draws a cart containing two people.

Chris Thurman wrote an article for Business Day about Feni and the way his work reflects life in exile.

Read his article:

The recent repatriation and burial of Nakasa’s remains should be celebrated but should also give us pause: what about all the other South African artists (activists or otherwise) who were driven into a life and death in exile? Most of them are not remembered or, like Dumile Feni, are mis-remembered.

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George Hallett Featured on Mail and Guardian‘s List of 16 Significant South African Photographers

Moving in TimeGeorge Hallet, photographer and author of Moving in Time: Images of Life in a Democratic South Africa, has been honoured by Mail & Guardian as one of the country’s “finest living black photographers”.

Hallett was included on the list of 16 significant South African photographers.

“Some of South Africa’s most recognisable images have been captured by Cape Town-born photographer Hallett. And some of the country’s most famous art masters too, such as Dumile Feni and Gerard Sekoto,” writes Stefanie Jason, daughter of equally famous photographer Fanie Jason.

She quotes a review of an exhibit of Hallett’s work: “Like Baudelaire, the French 19th-century poet-alchemist who transmuted the banal, the sordid and the prosaic of quotidian street life in Paris into a thing of rare lyrical beauty in his collection Les Fleurs du Mal, Hallett is the street photographer par excellence who captures beauty, joy and resilience in his predominantly working-class … subjects.”

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Despite South Africa’s wide range of talented and diverse photographers, a recent Flavorwire article titled “10 Essential African-American Photographers” has inspired this list of essential black South African photographers who are alive and constantly grasp our attention with their arresting images.

In a 2010 public lecture given by my father, photographer Fanie Jason, at University Park in Pennsylvania, he said, “In South Africa, no one speaks about blacks’ photography”, so to do just that – talk about black South African photographers – I’ve roped in award-winning photographer Zanele Muholi to give us her top three photographers, and renowned Mail & Guardian photographer Oupa Nkosi, who shares five of his favourite photographers.

There are certainly more than 16 great black South African photographers that should be on this list, such as Nontsikelelo Veleko, Rashid Lombard, Peter McKenzie, Benny Gool, and more, whose documentation of the South African experience – here and abroad – will forever be a part of the country’s cultural identity. But due to time and space constraints, we’ve stuck to 16.

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Catch the Art of Dumile Feni Exhibition at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg

The Beauty of the LineDumile Feni is the subject of The Beauty of the Line: The Life and Times of Dumile Feni by Chabani Manganyi. There is an exhibition of his works at Gallery MOMO in Parktown North that will run until 22 September.

Dumile Feni is “one of the most prolific 20th century artists in Africa”. He was born in 1942 in Worcester. As a child, he had a passion for carving and drawing. He began his career as an artist later on. He left South Africa in the late 1960s, going into exile in London. He ended up working in New York, where he died in 1991.

The opening for this exhibition was on 22 August. It features a number of Feni’s sculptures as well as works on paper. Nathi Khumalo photographed the event.

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Join George Hallett in a Weekend of Photography at Riebeek Kasteel

Moving in Time: Images of Life in a Democratic South AfricaGeorge Hallett, author of Moving in Time: Images of Life in a Democratic South Africa, is one of many photographers taking part in a weekend of photography in Riebeek Kasteel this Saturday and Sunday.

Hallett will be joined by Emma Willemse, Sandra Hanekom, Sue Hillyard, Nico Degenaar, Manus van Dyk, and others, in an event that is open to anyone interested in photography.

A group of local photography enthusiasts has arranged for a number of well-known photographers and artists to present a series of lectures and demonstrations on the diverse aspects of photography.

The two-day programme includes talks by photographers like George Hallett, Nico Degenaar and Manus van Dyk about landscape photography, night photography and star trails, as well as preparing for an exhibition.

Event Details

  • Date: Saturday, 6 and Sunday, 7 September, 2014
  • Venue: Riebeek Kasteel
  • Photographers: George Hallett, Emma Willemse, Sandra Hanekom, Sue Hillyard, Nico Degenaar, Manus van Dyk
  • RSVP: Joe Inns, 082 728 1865 or Alicia Greyling, 082 953 4450

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