February 3 saw the opening of the newest exhibition at Hofstra University Museum’s Emily Lowe Gallery. Departing Art in America, the new set of paintings deals mainly with apartheid era South Africa.
The exhibition, Saweto Art, takes its name from the Saweto Uprising, a series of black uprisings against apartheid oppression. The exhibit showcases several artists that differ widely in stylistic ways. From art in the most abstract forms to art in highly stylized forms, the exhibit offers something for everyone, a rare aspect of a collection of such specificity.
Immediately attracting the attention of a visitor to the gallery is Percy Konquobe’s sculpture, Uprising. Distortedly anthropomorphic, the sculpture depicts the anguish involved in any armed uprising. Immediately behind this sculpture, in contrast, is the work of Hargreaves Ntukwana. His work focuses more on the subject of the black community involved in the apartheid in South Africa, creating a more abstract image out of the earthy African tones.
The artist following Ntukwana is Valaphi Mzimba. His work depicts Africans involved in everyday life, creating a tone of underlying optimism and hope. It is, by far, the lightest work in the collection. David Mbele, another artist in the collection, combines the themes of everyday life with the African community in depictions of people playing music, playing chess and attending church in tones of black and a soil colored red.
The artist with the most works in the collection is Winston Saoli. From his earlier, more traditional works of easily recognizable scenes to his later, more abstract works, Saoli focuses on people above everything else. Many of the works have a dark and oppressive tone in reflection of a time he spent jailed without trial.
Throughout all of these works, a theme of community and resilience connects each piece with the whole collection and each artist with the others. Though varied in style or medium, the Saweto Art collection brings an interesting and variant selection in commemoration of a time of great oppression from the not so distant past.