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An exhibition of Gerard Sekotoís work, entitled Song for Sekoto


An exhibition of Gerard Sekoto’s work, entitled Song for Sekoto 1913 – 2013, his life and times was presented at the Wits Art Museum (WAM) in Johannesburg, from 26 April to 2 June 2013, in celebration of the centenary of the artist’s birth.

This exhibition was sponsored by Merrill Lynch, a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, with support from BHP Billiton, Business and Arts South Africa, Webber Wentzel and the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund.

Gerard Sekoto is considered by many to be the ‘Father of South African Art’. As a South African, some of his works have achieved extremely high values in the international art market with pieces carried in private and corporate collections around the world.  In his birthplace of South Africa however, he is still relatively ‘unknown’ amongst the general public.

In recent years Sekoto’s local profile has been raised by the extensive efforts of author Barbara Lindop – both through the research and publication of her books on the topic, and her work in establishing and running the Gerard Sekoto Foundation.  It is under these auspices that this exhibition was initiated, in order to facilitate further discovery of the excellence and depths of Sekoto’s important multi-disciplinary works. Supplemented by a personal history, documents and photographs this showcase has allowed Sekoto’s work to be considered for the first time within the tangible context of his life and the extraordinary circumstances in which he lived.

“At the conceptual core of this exhibition is the staging of Sekoto’s texts in relation to his paintings and sketches; his thoughts, ideas, ideals and conflicts offering a means of understanding the man behind the images. The complexity of his responses to his socio-political context in his private texts goes far beyond the seeming naivety of his early paintings, for example, shedding a quite particular light on his position in relation to what was happening in the country at the time.” says Mary-Jane Darroll, curator of the exhibition. 

 “Without the gracious support of our sponsor and supporters, this exhibition might never have taken place. It is due to their generosity that we have been able to mount this exhibition, which strives to bring the fullness of Sekoto’s contribution to the South African canon to new depths of understanding.” explains Lindop.

Commenting on Merrill Lynch’s involvement, South Africa’s country executive Richard Gush said, “Merrill Lynch has been present in South Africa for over 18 years and we believe that our role is to innovate solutions that foster economic growth and address social issues. We are proud to support this exhibition of Sekoto’s work. Of particular interest to us is the education outreach programme that is running in parallel with this exhibition, which will encourage engagement and conversation between different cultures within our diverse city. The arts are a great leveller – they make us human; and we believe that we can help to change lives by connecting communities through this powerful medium”.

 “At BHP Billiton, we pride ourselves in our ability to make a positive contribution to the communities, regions and countries in which we operate. We are proud to partner with the Gerard Sekoto Foundation in hosting and celebrating the Gerard Sekoto centenary exhibition. As owners of the famous Gerard Sekoto ‘Song of the Pick’ painting, we are pleased that this exhibition will help create an enabling environment for South African artists to thrive,” said Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, Chairman of BHP Billiton South Africa. Michelle Constant CEO of Business and Arts South Africa commented “this exhibition pays tribute to South Africa’s extraordinary history and heritage.  The support of business talks to the potential of real shared value and true partnership, and we are delighted to be able to engage in the process.”

“SONG FOR SEKOTO 1913 – 2013” was on show at WAM (The University of the Witwatersrand Arts Museum) and was recently reported to have attracted over 5000 visitors to the museum during the exhibition.

The University of the Witwatersrand Arts Museum is on the corner Jan Smuts and Jorrissen, Braamfontein, Johannesburg; from 26 April to 2 June 2013. Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. The Gallery can be contacted on 011 717 1365 or info.wam@wits.ac.za


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