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OMAR BADSHA (article first published : 2006-07-29)

The Durban Art Gallery is hosting the first major retrospective exhibition of the work of Durban born artist and photographer, Omar Basha.

The show includes drawings and photographs that span his artistic career over a period of 41 years. Badsha is one of the first group of artists who not only overtly challenged the apartheid regime but is credited along, with the artist Dumile Feni, with creating a new visual vocabulary that questioned the one dimensional representation of black life in South Africa.

His work as a documentary photographer has allowed him to explore his lifelong quest for capturing the essence of the ordinary and in his words “going beyond the frame and the heroic gesture”. Badsha is the recipient of a number of awards for painting and photography including the Sir Basil Shornland Award, Arts South Africa Today 1965, The Sir Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Award, Arts South Africa Today 1969. Natal Society Of Arts - Annual award 1968, “Images Of Africa" First Prize. African Arts Festival Denmark, 1993.

In 1995 he was commissioned by the Danish Government to document life in the country and in 1996 he travelled to India as a quest of the Indian Government to document life in his grandparents ancestral village in Gujarat.

The exhibition covers examples of work from all his publications from his first book A letter to Farzanah through to Imijondolo life in Inanda, Imperial Ghetto and Road to Tadkeshwar. He has contributed to a number of publications and the show will feature work done in Ethiopia through to Denmark and to the vast archive of documentation of the political struggle in KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.

Badsha and his family moved to Cape Town in 1987 where he established the Centre of Documentary Photography at the University of Cape Town. Aside from numerous group shows all over the globe, Badsha has had several solo shows around South Africa. His paintings and photographs are to be found in all the major public collections in South Africa and leading galleries and institutions abroad.

Badsha now lives in Pretoria. He is the founder and director of South African History Online, one of the largest websites on South Africa history and culture.

From the Margins to the Centre: A Retrospective runs at the Durban Art Gallery until September 3.




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