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KZNSA NEW PAINTINGS (article first published : 2006-04-25)

Few things have died as often as painting.

The novel comes a close second.

Both have had their obituaries written and published a thousand times. And yet, here we found painting, risen - Lazaruslike, yet again - very alive and very well and living (temporarily, at least) at the KZNSA recently, thanks to former KZNSA curator Storm Janse van Rensburg.

Painting’s many deaths have had many reasons. Most often like most deaths, it has been through natural causes. It has grown old and tired and very ill. Or it has become so full of its own importance that it has believed its own publicity and vanished in a puff of hot air.

At other times it has been attack from without, by various enemies. Photography almost killed it. Performance, installation, video, bodyart, photography again, as well as a host of new forms of expression have been threats.

What is remarkable about its new incarnation is that it has become a beast of so many heads that, no matter how hostile the climate, if one withers another takes its place. Its scope today is bewilderingly wide and much that shelters under its great umbrella would not have been given the name even twenty years ago.

The rise and rise of technology with its glamour and promise of unlimited possibilities would seem to threaten painting’s extinction. But, paradoxically it is the reverse. Faced with the advance of globalisation with its sameness, uniformity and standardisation, older forms of expression become a defence. Anything that requires the hand and the mind of someone to make is a weapon. The very intimacy of such creation, based on one person’s uniqueness, is a weapon to fight the anonymity of a future where everything and everyone is pressed out of the same mould.

Painting is back. And by the looks of it, it is here to stay. The exhibition New Painting was a response to the resurgence of interest in the art of painting.

The exhibition was curated by Storm who returned 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 was partially a response to bring to Durban the best of current practice 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 found the exhibition refreshing, challenging and inspirational.

The exhibition included a younger generation of artists who are either exclusively painters or who work with pigment on surface as an engaged and ongoing concern.

New Painting included work by established and emerging South African artists, some who have established themselves internationally such as Johannes Phokela and Moshekwa Langa. Other artists were Deborah Poynton, Tanya Poole, Kudzeni Chiurai, Tom Cullberg and Dinkies Sithole - Andrew Verster




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