'Thwasa', 'Recent work from a different homeland' and 'Pools and Nymphs' at NSA
At the NSA in September: 'Thwasa', a collaborative exhibition by 3rd Eye Vision; 'Recent work from a different homeland', which is an exhibition of prints and drawings by Jeff Rankin; and also Danielle Malherbe's new series of paintings, titled 'Pools and Nymphs'.
3rd Eye Vision is a Durban-based collective of artists of all disciplines, celebrating multi-disciplinary collaboration between music, poetry, visual arts and the performing arts. Established in 2000 the group has initiated numerous projects, and its members are pro-active in creating an environment that nurtures artists. The exhibition 'Thwasa' locates itself within the larger philosophical and conceptual concerns of the group, which includes current notions of African identity and the search for inclusivity.
The word 'thwasa' itself refers to the rite of passage to a higher state of being and is a description of the initiation stage of traditional healers. 3rd Eye Vision often searches for clues in African traditions, myths, legends and custom to help define a progressive route to an African centred future.
Exhibiting artists include Thando Mama (the recent winner of MTN Young Contemporaries award), Gabi Ncgobo and Zamani Makhanya. They will collaborate on an installation built around the ideas generated by the concept of 'Thwasa'. In addition an event, part of the Celebrate Durban Festival planned for September 23, will see further collaborations around the theme and includes some of Durban's hottest designers, performers, musicians and poets.
Sandile Msomi has been commissioned to dress the artists for the evening in his designs, while Sithembiso Shibe and Ntsimane Mfetane are responsible for the graphic design related to the exhibition and event. Hlengiwe Lushaba, Manu Ndlovu and Khathala Nkomo will present their dance theatre work while Keith Kunene, Portia Malunga and Sazi Dlamini will supply music. Jack Mthembu and Sli Mokoena will supply specially prepared finger food.
The exhibition is funded through a grant received from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the event supported by the eThekwini Municipality.
In the mezzanine gallery Jeff Rankin exhibits 'Recent work from a different homeland'. Rankin is an artist, printmaker and fine art lecturer living in a village on the Transkei-side of East London. He is a co-founder of the Fine Art Programme at Border Technikon in East London and recently established 'EyeTales', an experiential unit for Fine Art students. He has exhibited widely and was represented earlier this year on the International Print Biennale in Trois-Rivieres, Canada. In 2002 he exhibited at the National Arts Festival and at the Ann Bryant Gallery in East London.
Since relocating from Durban in 1993 to the Eastern Cape, Rankin has experienced the intensity of establishing a new art school in the thorny cultural landscape of the Eastern Cape. The two series of prints on show provide a visual re-telling of this personal and professional upheaval, using the mix of literal and metaphorical satire that has always informed his work as an artist and social commentator.
The exhibition is divided into three broad themes. The Perlemoen Minutesis a set of eleven large woodcut prints, based on first-hand experience of local political turmoil. Attempts to move a perlemoen farm into the area resulted in a drawn-out neighbourhood war, offering rich fare for Rankin's satirical appetite.
Climb is a set of fifteen etchings that describe Rankin's personal experience of the stressed work environment. From black cancer spots to feet crushing spoons, each work is a metaphorical narrative of characters and events in the history of meetings, confrontations, demands and absurdities that define the ironic success of his recent professional adventures.
Included in the show are other prints and drawings, which make connections between past and present, contextualising the development of ideas that come to rest in the woodcut and etching series. Some images originated in Durban before Rankin moved to the Eastern Cape whilst some are more recent.
In the Park Gallery Danielle Malherbe exhibits works from a larger series of paintings in 'Pools and Nymphs'. The visual elements that continue to appear in her work are the swimming bath (the 'pool') and classical feminine statuary (the 'nymphs').
The statuary's direct references to the past include Archaic Greek kor�, Classical Greek Caratyds and the Hellenistic Nike of Samathrace. The sculptures have obvious signs of wear, with broken arms, missing heads and, in the case of the Nike, a crumbling nose. This sense of frailty, of a faded era, indicates a decidedly Romantic preoccupation with nostalgia for the past, one tinged with a sad and bittersweet tone. On a personal level, the feminine statuary functions as a self-portrait: a vehicle for the artist to explore her neuroses and sensuality.
The landscape too serves as a site of personal engagement. A place of spiritual contemplation the artist also indicates that the pool contains within it "just a hint of unease or threat � the water in some paintings is luminous and inviting, lit by daylight, while in others it has a dark, inky, foreboding quality". Here she plays with a sense of disquiet within a contemporary Arcadia.
A graduate from Technikon Natal in 1990 Malherbe has worked as an art teacher and outreach officer in numerous projects in Durban and Pretoria. She has exhibited at various group exhibitions, and is presenting her second solo exhibition in Durban. A full time artist living and working in Pretoria, Malherbe manages and teaches through a successful artists' studio called 'Stone Rose Studio'.
Opens: September 9, at 6pm
Closes: September 28
NSA Gallery, 166 Bulwer Road, Glenwood
Tel: 031 202 3686
Fax: 031 202 3744
Hours: Tues - Fri 10am - 5pm, Sat 10am - 4pm, Sun 11am - 3pm