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NEW PAINTING (article first published : 2006-03-24)

The KZNSA exhibition New Painting, due to open at the end of March, is a response to the resurgence of interest in the art of painting. Internationally and locally the contemporary art market has shown a marked return of focus to the painted image. Exhibitions such as The Triumph of Painting currently on show at the Saatchi Gallery in London and Expanded Painting for the second Prague Biennale as well as a recent issue of the magazine Art South Africa that looked at the medium’s relevance and significance in a local context, is testament to this.

New Painting includes a younger generation of artists who are either exclusively painters or who work with pigment on surface as an engaged and ongoing concern. However, the exhibition does not intend to pigeonhole contemporary practice into a definitive and medium-specific manner nor does it want to create hierarchies of relevance. The death and rebirth of painting has been proclaimed too many times. Instead the exhibition is intended as a survey of the diversity of practice employed by contemporary South African artists and the multitude of language within the genre of painting.

The exhibition includes work by established and emerging South African artists, some who have established themselves internationally such as Johannes Phokela and Moshekwa Langa. Work ranges from the large, monumental realist Safety and Security by Deborah Poynton to the intimate oil paint animations of Tanya Poole, a recent winner of the Brett Kebble Art Award.

Kudzenai Chiurai, a Zimbabwean painter living and working in Johannesburg, contributes a visceral and politically charged work titled Mzansi which is counter-balanced by the neutral and melancholic group of paintings by Tom Cullberg. Exploring alternative materials on large canvases, Dinkies Sithole references the legacy of abstraction in the South African painting lexicon in his evocative works.

The exhibition is curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg, the former curator of the KZNSA, who returns as guest curator for the show. He states that: “For the past three years the idea to compile an exhibition of new South African painting has steadily grown. The show is partially a response to bring to Durban the best of current practice and to show that the medium is relevant, used experimentally, and that it is on par with international practice. I also hope that a local audience will find the exhibition refreshing, challenging and inspirational.”

New Painting is accompanied by a full-colour catalogue, which will be launched during the run of the exhibition on April 18 at 18h00 by well-known artist Virginia MacKenny, who wrote the lead essay for the publication. Formerly from Durban, Virginia MacKenny is now a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town Fine Art Department.

A comprehensive education programme will be implemented during the run of the exhibition and will include walkabouts, discussions, workshops and other activities. Public walkabouts with attending artists and the curator will take place on March 31 and April 1 at 12h30 each day. For more information related to the educational programme, contact the education coordinator, Zama Dunywa at the KZNSA.

The exhibition will be opened on March 30 at 18h00 by Andrew Verster and runs until April 23. More information from curator Nathi Gumede on 031 277 1703 or e-mail: curator@kznsagallery.co.za

The exhibition is funded through a generous grant received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. The KZNSA Gallery would like to acknowledge the support and assistance received in realising this exhibition from Erdmann Contemporary, the Goodman Gallery, Gallery Momo, Gallery on the Square, Joao Ferreira Fine Art, Michael Stevenson Contemporary and Obert Contemporary.

The exhibition will travel to the UNISA Art Gallery where it will be on show from May 9 until June 2, 2006.




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