Art in the Diaspora

Goodman Gallery New York Presents Landing, a Group Exhibition

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Goodman Gallery New York presents Landing, a group exhibition bringing together a group of five seminal artists who have each played a significant role in shaping the course of South African art history. Exhibiting this group of influential 20th and 21st century South African artists in New York, a northern hemisphere center for Modernism addresses the need for greater visibility for artists originating from the global South as part of a broader vision for revising Art History. The presentation also comes at a time of a growing international recognition for the importance of these artists as key contributors to what has now been coined global modernism(s). Some of the work labeled this way has been shown in Centre Pompidou, Paris; Perez Art Museum, Miami, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London, and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. The exhibition will be on from the 1st of November 2023 until the 6th of January 2024 and below are some of the artists whose work is featured in this exhibition.

Birds Landing 2017, Charcoal, pencil, pastel and acrylic on paper, 120x160cm, Image courtesy of Artsy

One of these South African artists is the late David Nthubu Koloane (1938-2019) who is considered to have been an influential artist and writer of the apartheid years in South Africa. Koloane explored questions about political injustice and human rights in his drawings, paintings and collages. His work titled Birds Landing, features scenes of Black urban life in Johannesburg and its townships. In addition to his work as an artist, Koloane became an influential writer, curator, activist, and artist mentor. In 1977, he directed the first gallery in Johannesburg devoted to the work of Black artists. A year later, he became the first curator at the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA). 

Anguished woman 1967/68, Bronze, 29x29x16cm, Image courtesy of Goodman Gallery

Zwelidumile Geelboi Mgxaji Mhlaba known as Dumile Feni (1942-1991) was a South African visual artist known for his drawings and paintings which often depicted the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Feni’s sculpture titled Anguished Woman raises consciousness of the struggle Black South Africans faced for freedom and democracy. He represented South Africa at the 1967 São Paulo Bienal, and though his work openly criticised the apartheid government, he was celebrated by several artists for representing the country at an international exhibition. His participation in the show also made him a target of the authorities and as a result he later fled to London for exile.

Sue Williamson (b.1941) is an artist and writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. Her piece titled District 6 is based on District Six, in Cape Town, which was once a close knit mixed race community with schools, social clubs, a fish market, sporting teams, beauty pageants and a tradition of jazz. In the mid 1960s, the apartheid government announced that under the Group Areas Act, District Six would be demolished and in future would be for White people only. Years passed and people thought it would never happen, but it was slowly demolished and 60 000 people were moved out of their homes to the bleak areas on the outskirts of Cape Town. In 1981, as an artist and as a member of the Friends of District Six, Sue Williamson spent weeks gathering materials from the demolition sites and recording voices from District Six residents, those who remained, and also those who had left. Some of that is what makes up Williamsons’ piece titled District Six, as depicted above.


Lelethu Sobekwa was born in Gqeberha, South Africa. She holds a BA Honours in English and an MA in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University. Lelethu currently writes for Art News Africa.

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