Stop. Watch. Listen

Then & now: Sanlam puts a century's worth of SA art on show

Sanlam's 'Centennial' exhibition highlights how SA's sociopolitical situation - and its art - has changed over the last 100 years

02 September 2018 - 00:00

WHAT: Centennial: A Century of South African Art from the Sanlam Art Collection: 1918 - 2018.
WHEN: September 5 - December 14
WHERE: Sanlam Art Lounge, Sandton, Johannesburg.
A brooding, dreamy, blue work featuring shacks at the bottom of Table Mountain by Ricky Dyaloyi (Untitled, 2004).
Maggie Laubser staring at the viewer with recalcitrant indifference in a famous self portrait (1928).
The infamous, fallen statue of Cecil John Rhodes re-imagined in an artist's studio by Richard Mudariki (Rhodes, 2015).
These are three of 70 works that will be on display in Sanlam's exhibition celebrating a century of South African art.
Of the 2,000 works housed in Sanlam's collection — on display in 13 different sites, two gallery spaces and various offices around the country, some in storage, many on loan to exhibitions, museums and universities — the chosen art will be shown to the public in an exhibition titled Centennial: A Century of South African Art from the Sanlam Art Collection: 1918 - 2018.
The curator is Stefan Hundt, who has been curating the Sanlam art collection and compiling its exhibitions for 20-odd years.
About the show he said: "There are two principles which provide the themes and subthemes for this exhibition: the first being that the exhibition should contain works that in some way or other reflect the social political transformation in SA over the century. The second is how art [and] aesthetic thinking has changed over this century."
The Sanlam Art Collection came into being in 1965 with the acquisition of 12 paintings - the works of Walter Battiss, Francois Krige, Irma Stern and Gregoire Boonzaier were among the initial acquisitions. The most recent addition is Mudaraki's Rhodes painting.
While partial to Laubser's 1920s paintings, when asked if he had a favourite work from the collection, Hundt said: "How does one make a preference when the superb bronze by a Sydney Kumalo or Ezrom Legae stands next to an equally engaging bronze by an artist such as Anton van Wouw or an abstract by Edoardo Villa?"
But when it comes to his favourite time in South African art history, Hundt doesn't miss a beat: "The last 27 years, from 1991 to today. SA has experienced significant change, both positive and negative, and it has been artists who have through their works reflected on this change in such novel and clever ways. They have reminded us of the past and that the present is both familiar but also strange, whilst the future although unknown is being anticipated."

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