Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Diamond Bozas Retrospective Exhibition

THE  DIAMOND  BOZAS  RETROSPECTIVE  EXHIBITION  opens at the Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday 4 August 2013 and closes in early 2014.

This major exhibition celebrates the life and work of the Zululand artist, Diamond Bozas, who turns 90 in August.   A wide selection of his work – still life, landscape and portrait - will be on view.   
The Tatham Art Gallery has published a fully illustrated catalogue based on audio interviews and on Diamond’s own writings about his work.  
It’s an exhibition not to  be missed.

TRIBUTE  TO  DIAMOND  BOZAS:  Exceptional Artist and Friend

By Jill Addleson

Supremely skilled as a painter and internationally recognized as a floral artist as well,  Diamond Bozas is equally gifted in the qualities he brings to friendship.  I have been most fortunate to count Diamond as a very special friend.   We met such a long time ago that I do not recall the particular occasion.   However, what I keep uppermost in my mind is his artistic professionalism, and his vitality and energy as a person.   How well many of us remember the celebration he held in honour of his 70th birthday in his Eshowe home and how welcome we were made to feel by both Diamond and Tassia, his wife.   Above all  we recall his hospitality and joie de vivre, his warmth and generosity as a human being and as our host on that occasion - and on many others, too.  

Over the years the art community in our province has admired Diamond’s paintings on many exhibitions that took place in Durban.  These include the Art – South Africa – Today shows which were held once every two years at the Durban Art Gallery from the 1960s up until the last one in 1975.     His works were represented on  nearly all the other  important KZN exhibitions, too.    These included the touring Jabulisa - the Art and Craft of Kwa Zulu-Natal shows and the Natal Biennale exhibitions.     Whenever we heard that Diamond was going to hold a solo  exhibition  -  generally on view at the KZNSA  gallery here, in Durban-  there was mounting excitement because we knew that we would be attending an exhibition of the highest artistic calibre. 

Very few people know about another part of Diamond’s creativity which is his dedication to museums.     In this regard I think he would have made a curator par excellence.   Always generous in his assistance to an artistic cause, he  was a prime mover in the establishment of two museums  in KZN:  the Teach Museum -  short for  The Empangeni Arts and Cultural History Museum  -   (now simply known as  the Empangeni Museum)  -  and the Vukani Museum in Eshowe which is renowned worldwide for its collections of Zulu arts and crafts.   I regard Diamond as a true museum person in his professional commitment to establishing high museological standards in both those two museums.   I think back to the meeting way back in the 1980s   that Diamond requested the Durban Art Gallery to host for him so that he could familiarize himself with major aspects of running museums.   What an enjoyable and memorable day we had!   Diamond had spent hours preparing detailed questions for us to answer on a wide range of museum functions and activities:   How do you store museum collections?   What is the best and safest way to display works of art in public spaces?   How do you record museum collections?    How do you care for works of art in a sub-tropical climate?  How do you establish Boards of Trustees to ensure and monitor the effective running of museums?   The questions came thick and fast from early in the morning when he arrived until late that afternoon.   When we broke for lunch, his excitement was tangible; it bubbled over and we realized that he could hardly wait for the establishment of his  two new museums.     And we had no doubt whatsoever that, virtually single handed,  his plans to establish them would  succeed.   Today they stand as monuments to his creative enterprise and foresight.   And still, to this very day, Diamond serves as an advisor on the museum committees of both these institutions.   As a member of numerous art and exhibition committees over the years he brings qualities of dedication, wide knowledge of his subject, reliability and imagination.   He was an asset on all such committees and a pleasure and great fun to work with.

Diamond is  skilled both  as a sensitive watercolourist who captures exquisite aspects of the Zululand landscape, which are often the sites of past historical events, as well as  a marvelous painter in oils.   Indeed, I bought a number of his beautiful works for the permanent collection of the Durban Art Gallery.   

For me Diamond is the definitive painter of the sugar cane fields of the KwaZulu- Natal North Coast.   He has made this subject completely his own by focusing on the description of this particular aspect of landscape in our province.   Until his sugarcane field paintings burst onto the artistic scene, perhaps   many of us had taken this subject   for granted, never seeing beyond an all too familiar sight.  When I look at cane fields now I always see them through Diamond’s eyes.   As a supreme painter he captures a purely agricultural scene  and then transforms it into a  romantic  saga.  You can almost hear the gentle coastal winds whispering through his fields of cane.   You marvel at how he has changed an ‘ordinary’ subject into a timeless statement.  Though titled Cane Cutting Eshowe  (1990),  this oil painting is un-peopled and focuses not on the cutters, but instead on the cane fields themselves and on the swirling skies above.    For me, Diamond Bozas has immortalized this part of the landscape of our province through his majestic paintings of the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu-Natal.