“We should put all the negativity that has dogged our country behind us because a new dawn is upon us.
It is a new dawn that is inspired by our collective memory of Nelson Mandela and the changes that are unfolding.
As we rid our minds of all negativity, we should reaffirm our belief that South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
For though we are a diverse people, we are one nation.”
~ President Cyril Ramaphosa, State of the Nation Address 2018.
The optimism rippling through the country has vibrated through the various spheres of our society. As with any change or shift within a community, the role of translating and re-imagining has often fallen on artists to reflect and interpret the signs of our times. In what has been understood as the beginning of a ‘new era’ in South Africa, with a new president and perhaps (?) a new direction for the ruling party, the exploration of these interactions forms the basis for a new exhibition at Eclectica Design and Art. Specifically, what might a ‘new dawn’ realize that was unlike before, we consider how today and tomorrow may be different from yesterday and, critically, can we analyze and consider the journey travelled thus far to reveal and unpack the necessity of this new beginning.
It is apt that the words of looking to a ‘new dawn’ followed a request from President Cyril Ramaphosa to move forward and put the “negativity that has dogged our country behind us”. The notion correlates with the understanding of ‘making a plan’ and ‘getting on with it’ – as South Africans are known to do. Concurrently, this also puts a certain level of impetus on citizens which then relegates responsibility away from government. In this sense, it becomes necessary to unpack and examine the words put forward to the state of our nation. Critically and crucially, this exhibition offers an avenue to explore this proposition. To consider the layers of complicity, and the impact of this new dawn, through the shifting of powers and the reallocation of bodies in the systems of power that remain the same. While blame is reassigned and reallocated, the dangers of further societal fragmentation become explicit and calls for deep and honest reflection – considering multiple facets of consequence and realities beyond the workings of one man. Beyond the theorizing and anticipation, what falls through is the fact that things do carry on. Interpretation is necessary, but what becomes clear is that creating space for discussion is crucial and compulsory to avoid complacency. Of the state of the nation, a ‘new dawn’ has been presented for the taking, but then again – shouldn’t every day be approached as such? To do better and keep working is essential, surely?
Within art circles and workings, a point of departure from the mumblings and musings of history can be the creations of artists, from dream-like creators Goya and Son Ra, to critical makers Alice Walker, Maria Magdelena Compos Pons, Jane Alexander and Dumile Feni. Begging for further interrogation in the re-presenting of South Africa is the notion of ‘Africa Rising/ Renaissance’. Throughout history, we have seen that artists can tap into idioms and visual puzzles to clarify the murky complexities presented to us in the impersonal black and white. As such, for the mid-year exhibition at Eclectica Design and Art, each of the artists presented explore and articulate various understandings and interpretations in order to reflect back on and interrogate contemporary life in South Africa.
From the paintings by Hussein Salim that present a dialogue between the importance of heritage and contemporary Sudanese art within the context of globalization to the meditative paintings created from memory by Georgia Lane exploring subconscious imaginings of spaces, there is a considered process of unpacking our world that occurs. In the textural, textual and layered collaging of Morgan Kundhardt and the colourful progression of abstracted figures by Anthony Lane there is an imagining of the extended body and how we manifest in the spaces we occupy. Ley Mboramwe, Corné Eksteen, Loyiso Mkize and Qhama Maswana each ruminate on the individual through their paintings, reconsidering representation and our interaction with images presented to us. In the variety and multiplicity of styles and mediums this exhibition presents, each of the artists find distinct way to touch on how a ‘new dawn’ may be realized or could be further interrogated.
Affirming the notion that South Africa “belongs to all who live in it”, this exhibition evidences how it is also made up of a diversity of people with a multiplicity of stories and views. Eclectica Design and Art, for our winter exhibition, presents an exhibition that hopes to open the doors to welcome these perspectives into our gallery space for conversation and interaction.
Exhibiting artists include: