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EMERGENCE (article first published : 1999-10-19)

After its initial appearance at the 1999 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, the travelling Standard Bank-sponsored Emergence Exhibition opens at the Durban Art Gallery on Wednesday (October 20).

In the last 25 years a distinctive style of South African art has emerged and this exhibition considers the complexities of the input by artists of different ethnic identities within different creative fields including paintings, printmaking, ceramics, photography, video and crafts. The well-presented exhibition also tracks developments in the practice, presentation and interpretation of visual art over this period, offering a conceptual journey of major global and regional change.

Emergence declares the complexity of the distinctive South African artistic identity through its very differences. While not chronologically ordered, it reflects each decade as anchored by key works around which inter-related satellite groupings are positioned. From the early days of television broadcasting in South Africa to the technological explosion of the Internet, Emergence portrays South Africa's former isolation to its current position in the centre stage of international attention.

The exhibition comprises over 150 works drawn from major public institutions and private collection. Well-known artists such as Jackson Hlungwane, Penny Siopis and William Kentridge feature alongside lesser-known artists such as Albert Chauke and Sizakele Mchunu. A guided text will be available as well as a list of publications on South African art from 1975 to 1999. An extensive database of artists' names and chronology will be on site. Emergence remains on view at the Durban Art Gallery until December 5.


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