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A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane

Iziko South African National Gallery

Media images and interview requests and enquiries, please contact:

Zikhona Jafta 021 481 3838 or email


Opening Sunday, 2 June 2019

The Iziko South African National Gallery, with the support of Goodman Gallery, are pleased to present A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane – an exhibition of the works of South African artist, David Nthubu Koloane (born 1938), curated by Thembinkosi Goniwe.


The exhibition profiles an extensive selection of artworks by David Koloane, which attest to his incredible contribution to the advancement of South African visual arts during and after apartheid. This exhibition traces Koloane’s artistic trajectory, helping to shed light on his creative and intellectual endeavours over the course of a 40-year career.


At the centre of A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane is Koloane’s unique aesthetic and visual vocabulary. Through his expressive, evocative and poetic work, Koloane has interrogated the socio-political and existential human condition, using the urban life of Johannesburg, a disparate city constitutive of suburbia and townships, as his subject matter. This is a Johannesburg that Achille Mbembe and Sarah Nuttall dub the elusive metropolis, owing to its enduring restlessness, influx, mutation, affluence, indigence, ambivalence and challenges. Koloane’s representations of Johannesburg are populated with images of cityscapes, townships, street life, jazz musicians, traffic jams, ladies of the night, migration, refugees, dogs, and birds among others. Imaginatively treated, through the medium of painting, drawing, assemblage, printmaking and mixed media, Koloane’s scenes are a blend of exuberant and sombre, discernible and opaque pictorial narratives.


Underlying these quotidian depictions which define Koloane’s artistic grammar is his search for what it means to be a modern black subject under colonialism, apartheid and the new democratic order. The result is a body of work which largely reflects Koloane’s own experience and knowledge of the precarious state of being or non-being, black and human, dehumanised and rehumanised.


In bringing this work together, the exhibition A Resilient Visionary: Poetic Expressions of David Koloane bears testament to the artist as both witness and participant in the ongoing transformative struggle to make the (art) world a more hospitable place for black artists. The exhibition is also a celebration of Koloane’s contribution to South Africa’s national and cultural struggle, bestowing, in the words of Steve Biko: “the greatest possible gift” an artist can give its subject: “a more human face.” It is this gift that Koloane has shared with the world at large, a gift he continues to espouse at the age of eighty-one years. And it is his creative and intellectual gift in the form of artworks and written excerpts that this exhibition presents.






Issued by: Ellen Agnew

Communications Coordinator: Iziko Museums of South Africa

Telephone: 021 481 3830 Email:


Issued on behalf of the Office of the CEO, Iziko Museums of South Africa



About David Koloane


To characterise Koloane as a ‘resilient visionary’ is also to recognise and celebrate his pioneering work writing essays, curating exhibitions, participating in conferences, giving talks, teaching and mentoring young and established artists at a time when such vocations were restricted to whites in South Africa. A large part of this effort involves the initiatives he helped establish, from the first Black Art Gallery in 1977, the Thupelo experimental workshop in 1985 and the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios in 1991. Koloane also tutored at the Federation Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in 1979 and became the head of the fine art section and gallery from 1985 to 1990.


A notable feature of these efforts was how they involved the breaking down of racial and national boundaries. Thupelo and Bag Factory are two examples, which brought together artists from different geo-cultural backgrounds around the world. Diverse creatives, thinkers and agents gathered, in James Baldwin’s axiom, to break bread through art making, dialogue and friendship.


Comprehending the meaning and substantial impact of these endeavours illuminate the significance of Koloane’s mission and vision, not only locally but internationally too. His art has been featured in international exhibitions and projects such as the Triangle Network. In 1986, Koloane completed a museum studies diploma at the University of London. Koloane has also served as the director of Bag Factory and has been a member in numerous committees and boards, whose varied tasks range from jurying art commissions and competitions to advising and deliberating on policies and allocation of funds, resources, etc.


Koloane co-curated the 1982 Culture and Resistance Arts Festival in Botswana, and co-ordinated and co-curated the 1990 Zabalaza Festival in London. In 1995, he curated the South African section of Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, in London. In 1988, Koloane was one of the delegates that extended the Triangle Network workshops to other African countries, by setting up the Pachipamwe workshop in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. This workshop later gave birth to the Thapong workshop in Botswana in 1989. These endeavours are indicative of Koloane’s legacy, one that is rich, profound and expansive. It is a legacy spanning more than five decades of perseverance and sustained creative productivity and intellectual engagement. He carried out these endeavours living and working in Johannesburg whilst partaking in the global arena of culture.


About Goodman Gallery


Goodman Gallery is one of the most distinguished and longest-standing international contemporary art galleries in South Africa. Established in Johannesburg in 1966, the gallery works with artists who are at once contemporary, influential and strive to shift perspectives and engender social transformation.

Founded during the era of apartheid, Goodman Gallery offered a non-discriminatory space when museums served the agenda of the autocratic government. Since 2008, under the directorship of Liza Essers, Goodman Gallery has expanded on this legacy, shifted its focus, and introduced numerous pivotal curatorial initiatives and partnerships. Essers has promoted a global outlook, while initiating unconventional interventions both within and outside of the traditional gallery space. This approach has dovetailed with an incisive three-tiered focus: working with southern Africa’s most significant artists, both established and emerging; those from the greater African continent; and international artists who engage in a dialogue with the African context.


About Iziko Museums of South Africa (Iziko)


Iziko operates 11 national museums, the Planetarium and Digital Dome, the Social History Centre and three collection‑specific libraries in Cape Town.  The museums that make up Iziko have their own history and character, presenting extensive art, social and natural history collections that reflect our diverse African heritage.  Iziko is a public entity and public benefit organisation that brings together these museums under a single governance and leadership structure.  The organisation allows *free access to all individuals on commemorative days, (*excluding the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Planetarium and Digital Dome). Visit our webpage at, join our online community on Facebook (, Instagram (@izikomuseumssa) or follow us on Twitter (@Iziko_Museums) for regular updates on events, news and new exhibitions.


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