In January the High
features the special installation "Transitions: Contemporary South African Works on Paper", which presents 13 works by eight artists, many on view for the first time. The exhibition explores how works of art act as visual narratives and testimonials to the remarkable changes in the political and social landscapes in South Africa from 1974 during the height of Apartheid to 2002, two years before a decade of democracy was widely celebrated. "Transitions: Contemporary South African Works on Paper" will be on view at the High from January 9 through June 10, 2010.
The works in the exhibition serve as beacons, charting a vision through the tunnel of the past, said Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, a graduate student in art history at Emory University and the guest curator of the exhibition. By re-visiting the period of transition in South Africa , the exhibition highlights its significance to the present, but also bears witness to the traumatic memory of the years of Apartheid. In this sense, the exhibition helps to construct new historical narratives.
The artists featured in the exhibition include Kay Hassan, David Koloane, Rudzani Nemasetoni, Derrick Nxumalo, John Muafangejo, Billy Mandindi and Sam Nhlengethwa. Also featured is a large-scale, rarely seen work by William Kentridge. The installation will complement the contemporary galleries on the Skyway Level as well as the Fred and Rita Richman Gallery of African Art.
African Art at the High
The Highs collection of African art is one of the most significant in the nation, with nearly 700 objects from Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, the Republic of Benin, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and other nations. Begun with the gift of a Baga sculpture from Helena Rubenstein in 1953, the collection has grown significantly with generous donations of more than 400 works of art from Fred and Rita Richman, patrons of African art at the High since 1972. Highlights of the collection include a 13th- to 15th-century terracotta figure from the Djenne region, a 19th-century Yombe scepter, 19th-century male and female reliquary guardian figures by a Fang artist, a ceramic vessel by a Mangbetu artist, ca. 1910, a gold leaf-covered royal scepter finial by Asante artist Osei Bonsu, ca. 1930, and the recent acquisition of Taago, created in 2006 by contemporary Ghanian artist El Anatsui.