Jan Bhuda and John-Anthony Boerma from Art Aid Africa.

Provoking Perspectives: Art as a Catalyst for Conversation

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Art speaks to both the heart and the mind. Each viewer’s reaction to creative work is deeply subjective and, as such, art provides a platform for communicating ideas and stimulating discussion.

Provoking Perspectives: Art as a Catalyst for Conversation opens at the end of June in Mbombela and forms part of the Innibos National Arts Festival, which is an annual celebration of South Africa’s rich visual and performing artists.

The exhibition is deliberately designed as a provocative catalyst to stimulate debate about aesthetic or ecstatic experiences in art, whether emotional, cognitive or intuitive.

Curated by South African artist John-Anthony Boerma and facilitated by Art Aid (Pty) Ltd, Provoking Perspectives features a collection of artworks that span 60 years, from 1963 to 2023.

Although art from across South Africa will be included, special focus will be given to the diversity of art styles and approaches from Mpumalanga and the South African diaspora.

“The work of known artists will be displayed alongside that of unknown artists, ensuring inclusivity and representation, which in itself will challenge perceptions,” says Boerma.

He says the audience will be exposed to new approaches to art, both in process and product. “I intend to give appropriate expression to the aspirations of a rapidly transforming society and spark meaningful dialogue and engagement with contemporary art in South Africa.”

The works of more than 30 artists will be on show, including Lucas Sithole, Jackson Hlungwani, Owen Ndu, Jop Kunneke, John Muafangejo, Rebecca Mthibe, James Sebata, Laura Batchelor, John Mkhwanazi, Thabiso Seloane, Wendy Malan, Sam Nhlengethwa, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Gladys Mgudlandlu, Dumile Feni, Durant Sihlali, Riason Naidoo, Kevin de Klerk, James Reed, Fikile Skosana, John Clarke, Marietjie Henning, Griet van der Meulen, Reuben Mpangane, Winston Thekiso, Zondi Skosana, Charl Bruwer, Judith Mason, Zakkie Eloff and Erick Manganye.

Veteran smooth-jazz saxophonist Wanda Zonke will enrich the opening event, which is by invitation only. Affectionately known as Heartsong because his music tugs at the heartstrings, Zonke’s showmanship is legendary. He has been a music lecturer for more than 13 years and has shared the stage with incredible musicians such as Dr Victor, Berita, and Just Jinjer.

The exhibition venue is the Mpumalanga Legislature Chamber at the Mpumalanga Government Complex, which is an architectural wonder. Resembling a beehive, the building incorporates tapestries, timber motifs, wall carving and mosaics. It is also home to the Mpumalanga Legislature’s permanent art collection, and several of these artworks will be incorporated in Provoking Perspectives.

Open to members of the public only at 10:00 and 14:30, the exhibition runs from Tuesday, June 27, to Saturday, July 1. Boerma will accompany visitors on walkabouts at these times. Entrance is free.