A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

visual arts
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

DUMILE FENI (article first published : 2006-03-9)

The retrospective exhibition in the Durban Art Gallery of Dumile Feni, considered by many as “one of Africa’s greatest contemporary artists”, draws to a close on March 26.

Dumile Feni, born May 21 1942, left South Africa to go into exile in 1968 after the powerful statements made in his work resulted in harassment by the apartheid security forces. He contributed hugely not only to the African 20th century art world but also to the struggle against apartheid. His works show anguished figures, often contorted as if in immense pain. The figures are clearly African because according to the artist: “My subjects are Africans because they are my people, but my message, the idea I am bringing to put across, has nothing to do with racialism”.

Dumile Feni moved from the Cape to Welcome as a child, and then to Queenstown where he began his artistic career. Having been encouraged to draw by his family, his artistic ability blossomed. Dumile’s artistic capability was further nurtured in 1963 when he was a patient at the Charles Hurwitz SANTA Tuberculosis Hospital in Johannesburg. He was encouraged to draw by the artist Ephraim Ngatane with whom he subsequently painted murals in the hospital.

Several persons can claim to have helped Dumile to accomplish his career as an artist. Ephraim Ngatane gave him instructions and took him to the Jubilee Art Centre. There he met Cecil Skotnes who helped him develop his drawing techniques. He also worked with Madame Haenggi of Gallery 101 in Johannesburg and worked and spent a lot of time with Bill Ainslie, a friendship spanned over 20 years.

It was only a few years later that Dumile’s work and opposition to apartheid took him to countries as diverse as Nigeria, England, China and the US. Dumile believed that the cultures of the people of South Africa and their struggle for liberation were inextricably linked. It was such belief that saw him using his artworks as a medium to voice his opposition to the inequality taking place in his native land.

His drawings are derived from the subconscious mind, communicating to the viewer messages about human life. He held several group and solo exhibitions. In 1966 he won a Merit Award on the SA Breweries Art Prize Exhibition. In 1971 he was awarded first prize for a bronze sculpture in the art competition of the African Studio Centre in Los Angeles. In 1967 he represented South Africa at the Sao Paulo Biennale.

He created sculptures of the first African Nobel Peace Prize winner and ANC president Albert Luthuli. In addition, he exhibited in numerous countries and worked with the United Nations Exhibition to commemorate Namibia Freedom Day in 1983.In 1986-7, he exhibited in the Voices from Exile exhibition that toured the United States.

Dumile Feni’s work has been acquired by major South African art museums. Amongst individual collectors are senior government officials including President Thabo Mbeki. His work is also found in collections in the USA, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Israel

He died in New York, in 1991; just before he was due to return home to the country he had struggled so long for. He died in abject poverty and didn’t live to see the dawning of the New South Africa.

Entry to the exhibition is free and all are welcome. For more information, contact 031 311 2264/9.




 A current news
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
letters to the editor
home page
archives A
crafts - dance - drama - film & tv - literature
music - supper theatre - visual arts
miscellaneous news - festivals
a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart