Lionel Davis – Gathering Strands
A retrospective exhibition by artist, activist and former District Six resident, Lionel Davis, opened at the Iziko South African National Gallery on 21 June 2017 – coinciding with the artist’s 81st birthday. This is the first time a full collection of this prolific local artist’s work is on show.
Gathering Strandstakes visitors through an artistic narrative depicting life in Cape Town’s largest forced removal neighbourhood, District Six. It highlights the artist’s experiences in this community – from happier days, to being uprooted because of the Group Areas Act. He says that, growing up in District Six, he became politically conscious of the injustices at the time. His activism eventually led to his arrest and incarceration on Robben Island for seven years. A selection of posters exhibiting Davis’ political activism is also on display.
The exhibition provides diverse works, including linocut prints (for which he is well known), posters, painting and sculptures. Describing his works, in old fashioned “Uncle Lionel” style, he says that he, “catches on his eie *”kop se goed”, and regularly rummages through dirt and finds objects he can reuse in his art. Lionel Davis’s modern art is a mix of paintings, sketches, and anything he can find to create something beautiful.
While some artists are only acknowledged after their death, and others are praised for being ‘baby-geniuses’, Davis’ story about going against the odds. Doing his own “kop se goed” has allowed him to leave a legacy that many can learn from, and we hope that with this retrospective exhibition, visitors take away some of that incredible heritage.
Gathering Strandsis on exhibition until February 2018.
*whatever comes to mind