The Davis Museum poses universal questions about social culture in new exhibition

The Davis Museum at Wellesley College will present Life on Paper: Contemporary Prints from South Africa, an exhibition that investigates existential questions raised by diverse artists through works on paper including drypoints, lithographs, screenprints, woodcuts, and more.

The exhibition, which honours recent gifts to the collection by the Artist Proof Studio (APS) in Johannesburg, APS Director and University of Johannesburg Associate Professor Kim Berman, APS Manager of Educational Programmes Lucas Nkgweng, and Dr Pamela Allara, Brandeis University Associate Professor Emerita of Contemporary Art, will be on view in the Robert and Claire Freedman Lober Viewing Alcove from September 19 through December 17, 2017. ‘Taught in both academic institutions and community education centres, printmaking has long held a prominent place in South African modern and contemporary art,’ said Dr Amanda Gilvin, Assistant Curator, and curator of the exhibition. ‘These recent gifts to the Davis add to a strong existing African art collection. The exhibition combines several of our new acquisitions with other South African artworks acquired since 2000.’

Davis Museum
David Tsoka (b. 1992), Johannesburg, South Africa, All Things Began to Happen, 2013. Linocut. Dimensions: image: 23 1/4 in. x 35 1/4 in. (59.1 cm x 89.5 cm); sheet: 30 3/8 in. x 43 7/8 in. (77.2 cm x 111.4 cm). Gift of Artist Proof Studio 2017.

All eleven works of art in the exhibition raise questions about what it means to live as a human on earth, and some also highlight issues specific to South Africa. For example, in All Things Began to Happen, 2013, the up-and-coming artist David Tsoka depicts the entire “journey of life.” In addition, two drypoints by world-renowned artist William Kentridge, Living Language (Cat), 1999, and Living Language (Panic Picnic), 1999, explore the miscommunications inherent in all acts of translation. While organising the exhibition, curator Amanda Gilvin came across an interesting connection. Christine Dixie’s The Birthing Tray – Milk, 2006, from the artist’s Parturient Prospects project, examines past and present approaches to childbirth. When creating the series, Dixie took inspiration from The Art and Ritual of Childbirth in Renaissance Italy (Yale University Press: 1999), by Wellesley College Professor of Art Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. During the exhibition, the Wellesley College community will be able to witness the influence of Professor Musacchio’s scholarship on a contemporary South African artist.

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