I haven’t been to an exhibition at the Joburg Art Gallery for ages – somehow JAG’s PR doesn’t market its events succesfully (suffering from the City Council’s budgetary woes?). So to go to the opening event on Sunday 6th May and see the Gallery literally bursting at the seams with both people and images, was a complete joy! Oh that it was like this for every exhibition and event. Kentridge’s lecture was almost certainly what drew many of the visitors through the Gallery’s doors and as always he did not disappoint. He consistently presents acute and thought- provoking insights and makes highly original connections in an accessible and fascinating way. The south entrance hall of the Gallery was jammed to capacity with nowhere near enough space – both seating and standing space was full with many disappointed people having to leave as they could not get into the building at all and so could not hear anything of the proceedings. After William’s talk visitors moved into the courtyard where Sibongile Khumalo officially opened the exhibition.
Coming of Age is a retrospective exhbition of Artist Proof Studio (started by Kim Berman and Nhlanhla Xaba in 1991). For more on Artist Proof see http://www.artistproofstudio.co.za/ . There are also many works by more established artists – both South Africans as well as visiting international artists. With many sub-sections put together by different curators, the exhibition is overwhelming to take in on one visit – and that is certainly no complaint! So be prepared to go back twice and more. Also the printing processes are many, varied and complex and it really helps to see the actual processes before going round the exhibition. So before starting to view the works, my advice would be to make your way down to the basement level and turn left (ie to the eastern part of the building) where, in the far corner, you will find artists from the Studio demonstrating the various printing techniques. For a non-printmaker to begin to internalize the complexities of the processes before confronting the works is really valuable. And once one has only the most superficial of insight and understanding into the consummate skill of these artists, the images inspire even greater awe. It is a real gem of an exhibition NOT to be missed. With another two months to go make sure you leave time to go back 2 or 3 times. The exhibition runs until the 6th July. You are in for a treat – enjoy. I certainly will be going back.
For more information on the background to the exhibition see http://www.artlink.co.za/news_article.htm?contentID=29903