South Africa finds expression in art

South Africans are a creative people. Stop at a traffic light in almost any city and you will have guys selling sculptures made from beads and wire, puppets crafted from found objects and paintings in bright colours. And these aren’t even the “professional” artists of the country. It seems even the guys with no formal training have amazing artistic flair. South Africans certainly find their expression in art, a tradition that goes back thousands of years to the original artworks by humankind: the rock paintings that our ancestors did, found in caves all over the country.

The artists from this country have certainly put South Africa on the art map. Local artists have shown in galleries across the globe, and their pieces form part of massively valuable collections belonging to private and public collectors around the world. Here is a bit of information about some of the top South African artists.

Jane Alexander
Alexander was born in 1959. When she was still only a student, her sculptures called The Butcher Boys saw her becoming a prominent name on the art scene. The piece, which was of three mutant-like men sitting on a bench, were life-sized and were the first in a series of sculptures. She is currently a lecturer at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town.

Jackson Hlungwani
Hlungwani was born in 1923 and passed away in 2010. Whilst growing up, he was taught by his Shangaan father how to carve household objects out of wood. He first worked as a miner, but after losing a finger decided to focus on his carving full time. His pieces are mostly of fish and he is a fantastic example of a sought-after artist who had no formal training of any kind.

Gerard Sekoto
Sekoto passed away in 1993. He was born in 1913 and was one of the pioneers of urban black art and social realism. He exhibited not only in South Africa but also in Senegal, Washington, Paris, Venice and Stockholm. He lived in Paris from 1947. He was also a musician, and worked as a pianist to fund his art education. He was only given recognition in South Africa in 1989. He was award an honorary doctorate and a retrospective exhibition of his work was put on in Johannesburg. 

Irma Stern
Stern’s work reflected the landscaped and scenes she saw during her lifetime which was filled with many travels. She was born in 1894 and died in 1966. She lived in Rosebank, Cape Town and her former home is now a museum where you can go and view her artwork.

South African certainly have a long and wonderful history of art. They have expressed themselves through their art, showing talent and perseverance even when some had absolutely no formal training. We are a nation of artists and the world is certainly taking notice. You can find artwork from the country at galleries or by consulting with auctioneers in Cape Town.