Breaking Down the Walls

02/11/2022
South African National Gallery

Iziko South African National Gallery reopens!

Breaking Down the Walls – 150 years of Art Collecting at Iziko opens at the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) on Thursday, 27 October 2022. The exhibition reflects the diversity of the Iziko Art Collections and brings together objects and artworks from many other collections within Iziko Museums of South Africa in an innovative and exciting manner.

This extensive visual showcase occupies most of the ISANG and comprises of more than five hundred works – some on show for the first time ever. Works by South African artists such as Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, Peter Clarke and Gladys Mgudlandlu, are juxtaposed with historical paintings and sculptures such as Rembrandt, Picasso and Goya.

Breaking Down the Walls comprises of topical sections, as opposed to thematic or chronological arrangements, and viewers are ‘activated’ by different types of curatorial styles employed across the sections of the exhibition. Curated by Andrew Lamprecht, with a reference group that includes Amohelang Mohajane, Barboro Martinez-Ruiz, Bettina Malcomess, Ciraj Rassool,Ernestine White-Mifetu and Tony Gum, the exhibition has been consciously curated to include themany absences in the art collections.

Says Lamprecht, The first major work by a South African artist was acquired in 1926 and it would take until 1964 before a work by a Black South African would enter the collection. Thus, there is an imbalance in the holdings. This exhibition reflects and considers this imbalance, whilst celebrating the

attempts to redress in more recent decades. It also looks to the future – in highlighting new acquisitions and policies aimed at broadening the scope of art collected at the Gallery.’

The Iziko art collections date back to 1872 with the first donation of paintings by Thomas Butterworth Bayley. This donation was a catalyst for the formation of the Gallery. This exhibition also looks to new ways and begins to re-imagine what a National Collection might be, while still looking to commemorate the efforts of past staff and donors to what is a truly national resource and treasure house. The shift is a reflection on the organisation’s vision to Re-Imagine Iziko through an ambitious series of projects, revitalisations and repositioning strategies by Iziko Museums of South Africa.

Says Dr Bongani Ndhlovu, Executive Director, Iziko Museums of South Africa: ‘The exhibition: Breaking Down the Walls, gives Iziko Museums an opportunity to reflect on its collections and to initiate a healthy dialogue through our national estate. This exhibition spotlights key acquisitions in our collections, raises debates about specific eras in our country’s history and how artists have attempted to reflect on our colonial, apartheid and anti-apartheid pasts as well the post-1994 moment. Through this exhibition, members of the public are invited to reflect, share and to contribute to this constructive engagement.”

Access is also of primary concern to Iziko, bringing collections into the light through storytelling and using creative and innovative ways to meet a new generation where they are. Breaking Down the Walls celebrates younger audiences with a room dedicated to the next generation. Works are positioned at a lower eye level and future interactive elements will help children experience art through all their senses. A dynamic series of public programmes, events and activities are planned for the duration of the exhibition.

‘Our museums are places of inclusivity, creativity, innovation, and discovery – spaces for gathering, celebrating art, culture, knowledge creation and storytelling and need to reflect on the histories and cultures of the people they serve. During the temporary closure of the Iziko South African National Gallery, the curatorial team, collections managers, conservators, creatives, educators, administrators and support services staff have spent numerous hours on creating inclusive offering that awes, inspires and reveals the diversity of the works in our collections ’ concludes Ms Rooksana Omar, CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa.

Breaking Down the Walls is on show at the Iziko South African National Gallery. 1 Government Avenue, Cape Town. Monday to Sunday, 09:00 until 17:00

Entrance Fees:

  • Adults: R30.00
  • Children aged 6 to 18: R15.00
  • Children aged 5 and under: Free
  • South African pensioners and students (with valid cards): R15.00 / Free entry on Fridays
  • School groups: Booked: R5.00; Unbooked: R8.00
  • Free entry on commemorative days

The Iziko South African National Gallery is in the Company’s Gardens in Cape Town.

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