Tel: +27 11 834 9181
Fax: +27 11 838 6791
Postal address: PO Box 794 · Newtown · Johannesburg · 2113
Physical address: 10 Mahlatini Street · Fordsburg · Johannesburg · 2001
It is with a tender and bittersweet outlook that we say farewell to our beloved Madiba. His impact on our lives and our country has and continues to be profound and beautiful. Madiba is now at rest! South Africa and indeed the world must look to preserve and encourage his legacy of freedom, reconciliation and peace, remembering what affect one person can have on the world.
Art has always been a powerful tool when it comes to bringing issues into the public forum, whether to stimulate debate, make us reflect, or make political and social statements. The work of some of our artists in residence is no exception here, whether Blessing Ngobeni’s political commentaries, or Mandy Johnson’s investigations into the way we attach value to substances. Art has the power to create change, and this is something that we should continue to not only embrace, but actively encourage as much as possible.
South Africa is a country that faces many unique challenges, and the Art produced undeniably represents that. While of course, generating discourse and commentary on these issues internally, whether they are political, domestic, or personal, is fundamental to taking steps to address them, in today’s global community South African Art has the opportunity to make a much more wide reaching impact. South Africa has a rich history of art, and traditional tribal art is already well known throughout the world for it’s unique and expressive style. It is from this rich tradition that today’s artists are able to evolve, and although not without it’s problems, the arrival of democracy has gone a long way to fostering and enabling artists to not only express themselves but also increase in proliferation. Perhaps fundamentally, we must accept the long association that South African Art has with politics – most notably the apartheid art that was used as an active way to mobilise protest and dissent. While there is some disagreement about the classification of the art of this period, we cannot deny its crucial role in not only documenting but actively engaging and motivating the struggle. While some of these issues still linger, the rapidly growing African economy is giving rise to new problem areas that previously may have been bypassed by artists in favour of more pressing political issues. It is perhaps now more important than ever that Art brings these social issues to light in a political and global climate that allows them to be not only investigated artistically, but also spread globally.
While employment and educational opportunities for young people are certainly more widespread, poverty and lack of employment is still a major difficulty faced by many South Africans. How these issues are translated into Art is an interesting one. Referring once again to Ngobeni, we see that he transforms these scenes of hardship, desperation and violence into eerily beautiful and striking imagery. This has the effect of drawing the viewer into the piece, grabbing attention, and slowly upon scrutiny revealing a much more troubling aspect. We might say this is indicative of South Africa as a whole – a beautiful and striking country with underlying troubles. Political issues are not the only source of subject mater for modern artists however. Benon Lutaaya’s work for example, is much more personal in nature, yet addresses issues all too common in South Africa and often given a back seat in contrast to some of the wider issues. Child for example, and homelessness are the basis for some of his works. Addressing abuse is of particular interest, because along with mental health issues is not widely discussed due to social stigma. Abuse can often result if a child has an undiagnosed mental illness for example, and educating all aspects of the population about these issues is one of the fundamental problems facing South Africa. This stems from more rural communities often not having easy access to online guides for families for instance, or the proper medical facilities and personnel. Tribal remedies and solutions are often still employed in many cases.
Perhaps one of the most appealing and important aspects of art is that it allows both us and the artist to explore problems and events in different ways. Many works for example, offer us a unique insight into personal experience that can reverberate with a great many others, or perhaps express our feelings towards a certain political climate more succinctly than an official or a press statement. In addition to all this, and perhaps at the core of much art that encourages of comments on social change, is that is produces a reaction in us – A reaction that can often trigger a series of others, in others that begin the wheels of change.
The Bag Factory was privileged to be a provided a stand at the 2012 Joburg Art Fair with supported from the Gauteng Province. This year artists at the Bag Factory produced a series of 50cm x 50cm works on high quality canvas.We still have a number of works available for sale.
These works are viewable on the slide show on the top right of this page.The commission for the sale of these works will contribute towards our efforts to purchase and renovate our building.
Reproduction prints available from shop
Original Artworks available from shop