Dr Same Mdluli curated the largest exhibition of black SA artists

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Same Mdluli

Dr Same Mdluli, the curator and manager of the Standard Bank Art Gallery in Johannesburg, tells us more about the largest exhibition of black South African artists since democracy.

Dr Same Mdluli curated the largest exhibition of black SA artists

I’ve always been fascinated by black South African artists. This began at a young age and struggling to find information on them fuelled my interest in black art history even more. I made sure that my career path was geared towards unearthing new knowledge about black artists and celebrating them.

Same Mdluli

I love being a curator because it allows me to tell stories through visual artworks. While doing my PhD research in art history, I found out that there was a collection of artwork by black South African artists stored at the University of Fort Hare. I called the institution to make an appointment to see the artwork because a part of me didn’t believe it. After a few failed attempts, I finally saw it. From that moment on, I knew that I had to share it with the rest of the world.

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Artwork by black South Africans is captivating. When I saw the artwork at the university, a part of me was sad that there was little information on these artists because most of them had died. I decided to curate an exhibition titled The Black Aesthetic: A view of South African artists (1970–1990) because I wanted to shine the spotlight on their artwork in hope that their stories can be told through it.

Same Mdluli

The response to the exhibition was overwhelmingly positive. A large number of young and old people came to see it, and this made me happy. I was also pleased to see relatives of some of the late artists who had interesting stories to tell about them.

I’m hoping to continue doing more of these types of exhibitions. I loved that a large number of young people came and gained knowledge about black South African artists. I would like to do more exhibitions in other provinces and even abroad because it is important that these artists are celebrated. I would also like for storytellers to write about these artists so that their story can be told.

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