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EXPANDING THE NARRATIVE (article first published : 2007-02-26)

Omar Badsha, Simon Mguni, Gerard Bhengu, Selby Mvusi, Trevor Makhoba and Sithembiso Sibisi are just a few of the 25 KwaZulu-Natal artists whose paintings feature in the largest book of paintings in South Africa.

Expanding the Narrative of South African Art – The Campbell Smith Collection, was launched in February 2007 at the African Art Centre in Durban and is seen as a contribution to the immense task of revising the history of South African art in the post-apartheid era. The basis of the book was The Campbell Smith Collection of South African Art, arguably the largest of its kind in a private collection.

Born in Durban, Bruce Campbell Smith studied fine arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and then in Cape Town. His later successes as a business entrepreneur in the 1980s allowed him to grow a private collection of South African art. He said: “It’s something that I worked at for such a long time and I always knew that the end product would be one I would be proud of.”

The collection consists of 427 works by 83 artists, working in the period from 1925 to 2005.

Hayden Proud, editor and author of Expanding the Narrative of South African Art – The Campbell Smith Collection, notes that the scope and depth of the collection allowed one to examine the concerns, circumstances and conditions of art-making in South Africa during some of the most troubled phases in the country’s modern history.

“The Campbell Smith Collection was shown at the Iziko SA National Gallery in Cape Town between October 2005 and March 2006,” he added. “This publication is the substantive catalogue of that exhibition.”




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