Review: “Africa Today Tomorrow Always” presented by Future Art Era
Future Art Era is currently hosting an enchanting exhibition of three South African artists in the tranquility of their new gallery at 1 Scott Street, Hartebeespoortdam. Before commencing on discussing the work presented, a few words have to be dedicated towards describing the ambiance brought about by the mere location and tasteful layout of this relatively small art gallery set against the slopes of the Magaliesberg looking out on the Hartebeestpoort dam. Despite the hustle and bustle of typical Saturday afternoon tourists and visitors in the many restaurants and other places of interest, the gallery presents itself as a quiet haven where you can peacefully indulge in excellent art and share your passion for it with family and friends. Indeed a refreshing experience compared to the chrome and glass environments that galleries nowadays have to resort to in order to attract clientele.
Future Art Era has to be commented on the vision of combining the work of the three artists exhibited under the title “Africa Today Tomorrow Always”. The works reflect three totally different mediums from artists from different parts of South African society, yet they have in common a shared passion for Africa, its cultural origins, the travels through its history, its contemporary complexities, and questions about its future. Through the works of the three artists, Africa is explored from the depths of its mystic origins in the abstractions of the colourful, symmetric compositions of Anton DK through to Africa today. The often surreal compositions of Eric Lubisi in which the human figure, with the assistance of strong African symbolism, is in constant search of its origins and Gert Potgieter’s social realistic sculpture dealing with the hardships of an unjust, unequal society in contemporary South Africa.
Although all the works are unmistakably South African as can clearly be seen from use of line, form, shape, colour and texture, it deals with subject matter that reaches beyond geographical and political borders. It is probably the first exhibition where African art is not concealed within the borders of Africa as “African Art” but rather reflects works that can comfortably exist beyond its borders. Africa need not to be taught anymore, Africa can start teaching now. Indeed, a delightful thought. Delightful, that through our art the world outside there can learn more about themselves and not only about us hidden somewhere in a dark continent.
The South African art scene has for many years, been divided between the so-called “Contemporary Art” market and the “Commercial Art” market. The contemporary art market is mostly an academically driven market. It serves research objectives for critics and historians and is heavily influenced by European and American art activity. The work produced under this banner is mostly destined for big corporate collectors and galleries. It has to a great extent managed to alienate the greater South African public. They are perceived as an elitist group and hence society is feeling intimidated and isolated. In opposition, the commercial art market has taken the opportunity and penetrated the left open void by offering the public content less pictures and ornaments rather than paintings and sculptures. Future Art Era promises through this exhibition, to associate itself with a type of art that does not require a gallery context to exist as art and hence can comfortably fit into any home, office or boardroom but most important it has content in abundance. It is nice to look at, it can be talked about, it can be written about, it can be researched and can comfortably fit its deserved place in the history of South African Art.
Keep up the good work.
By: The Critic