Thursday, June 4, 2015

Focus on Acquisitions at The Durban Art Gallery

A major function of galleries worldwide is to acquire works of art for their permanent collections. At the Durban Art Gallery the present focus is on collecting artworks mainly by contemporary Durban artists whose work reflects topical issues, locally or globally. In this way these works are relevant to the very society the gallery serves.

Mdu Xakaza, Director of the Durban Art Gallery, writes:
The Durban Art Gallery pays great attention to promising work by young emerging artists in and around Durban. Artists include Mthobisi Maphumulo, Wonder Mbambo and Sthenjwa Luthuli. 

Should their work prove to be of consistently high artistic standard, the Gallery would consider acquiring it for the collection. Recently the Gallery purchased a painting by the young Durban artist, Xolile Mazibuko, who is based at the BAT Centre, off Durban’s CBD. This artist is a member of the Shembe Church, also known as the Nazareth Baptist Church. She explores the Shembe Church and other elements associated with it as the main theme in her paintings. 
Mhlonishwa Chiliza and Zinhle Khumalo are two artists who graduated from formal art institutions in Durban. As with work by other young up-and-coming artists the Gallery must constantly view the work by all these emerging artists to ensure that they continue to produce work of a standard suitable for being included in the permanent collection.
Once works by these and other artists enter our collection we use them to engage the public in various educational programmes. These include seminars, public walkabouts, and art exhibitions arranged so as to focus on the school curriculum The Gallery places great emphasis on the educational needs of scholars in Grades 10 to 12, in particular. 
The Durban Art Gallery receives funding once every financial year to be used solely for acquiring works of art for the permanent collection. Art galleries continually collect works for their permanent collections, but their holdings may never be regarded as being entirely ‘complete’ or up to date. 
The value of the Durban Art Gallery’s permanent collection - as with collections in other art museums – represents a considerable artistic investment for the City of Durban. . The emphasis is not on the monetary value of the collection: its value lies in being part of Durban’s heritage. . The educational value of the collection is equally significant. Indeed, perhaps the most important service that the Durban Art Gallery offers is education which empowers visitors and inspires them to contribute towards changing society for the better. The Durban Art Gallery’s collection is permanent and as such it belongs first and foremost to Durban, but also to people beyond this city. The most important aspect of the collection is its educational rather than its financial value. 


The Durban Art Gallery is very anxious not to miss out on the acquisition of important new works by artists who have recently entered the art scene in Durban. Acquiring works by these young artists assists the Gallery in continually updating its permanent collection. Highly promising young artists deserve recognition through being represented in the Gallery’s collection.
The relevance of the subject matter is very important in deciding whether to
acquire particular works for the collection. Art works which depict current topical issues locally or globally – are of great interest to the Gallery and important for educational activities at the Gallery
Whenever possible, the Gallery collects works by highly renowned South African artists, in particular: such works are an important asset for the City and the public, and an immeasurable artistic investment as part of the Gallery’s permanent collection
The Durban Art Gallery is a public institution. For this reason the Gallery believes that the public should have a say in what works are being considered for acquisition. To this end The Gallery is currently establishing a new Acquisitions Committee.

The Gallery recently acquired the following works for the permanent collection:

Pitika Ntuli
Please don’t push me around anymore, undated
Found objects (wheelbarrow, spade)
178 x 70 x 160 cm cm
Pitika Ntuli’s subject matter is interesting because it promotes deeper engagement with current social issues which are remnants of the past socio-political reality in South Africa. Of note is the innovative approach in the execution of the work and the use of scrap metal and found objects.

Paul Sibisi
Be my guest – MALAIKA, 2013
Pen and acrylic on canvas
49.8 x 149.8 cm
The subject matter of this painting focuses on the workers and their mode of transport. The work reflects on daily conditions under which the workers still live and work. This concept is reinforced through the use of the foreground objects such as tools and clocks which are images which represent labour; while on the far left side of the format there is a laptop, an image which may be associated with management rather than with labour. This work is a continuation of Paul Sibisi’s interest in social issues. The subtlety with which he treats the subject matter is important as it leaves space for engagement with the viewer.

Grace Kotze
To Cradle (Belly), 2012
Oil on canvas
70 x 140 x 4 cm
Sgd BL G Kotze
Donated by the artist
To Cradle (Belly) by Grace Kotze, a Durban artist and art teacher of note, is an example of her technical expertise. Her choice of subject matter is typical of an artist who is never complacent, and who believes in experimenting with various ideas.
The donation of this powerful painting is an important addition to the Gallery’s permanent collection. The work adds to the artistic heritage in Durban and also represents a significant artistic investment for the city.

Hendrik Stroebel
Traded 2012
Embroidery with ceramic frame
34 x 23cm

Traded by Hendrik Stroebel is an excellent example of the artist’s expertise in his use of the combination of two different media: ceramics and cotton thread. 

Pitika Ntuli (1942, Springs, Gauteng).
South African sculptor, poet, writer, and academic. Spent 32 years in exile in Swaziland and the UK. While abroad taught art at Camberwell College of Art and University of East London. Since his return to this country has taught at Wits and UKZN. Has held solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions. Public sculptures to be found in Swaziland.

Paul Sibisi (1948, Durban)
Studied art at Ndaleni Educational Training School, KZN. 1969-1971 taught art at Appelbosch Training College, Oswatini. 1973-1974 studied at the ELC Art and Craft Centre, Rorke’s Drift 1987 spent six months at Fircraft College, Birmingham, UK studying art education and graphic techniques. From 1974 to date has held one person exhibitions and participated in numerous group exhibitions. Sibisi is involved in setting up cultural art workshops in KZN. Work represented in public art collections in KZN.

Grace Kotze (1968, Durban)
She says: “I work primarily as a painter but also curate and teach [art] part time. …..“My paintings function on an autobiographical level documenting both my internal and external vision. I paint places and people from my everyday life, using the familiar as a direct link to an emotive sense of self.”

Hendrik Stroebel (1954, Durban) 1985-1988
Studied Fine Art and Ceramics at DUT. 1990 began lecturing art at DUT FA Department of Ceramics. 1994-1999 traveled to Egypt and the Middle East. Influences of his travels are first seen in his early large ceramic urns, and in later work consisting of embroidered pieces set in ceramic frames. His work is represented in public and private collections.