A new online exhibition opened at the NWU Botanical Garden Gallery this March. Titled We Will Rise Again, the exhibition is a solo show by Nditsheni Managa and highlights, amongst other things, the resilience of the informal sector practitioners. NWU Gallery curator Amohelang Mohajane provides further context on the exhibition.
“We will Rise Again” …
Rooted in Venda and practising in Johannesburg, Nditsheni Managa’s first solo exhibition is presented at NWU Gallery.
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 terrorised the entire global space and had a negative effect on all aspects of life, including businesses. South Africa specifically experienced harsh lockdown protocols in attempts to manage and prevent further spread of the disease. This had an undesirable effect on small and informal enterprises and businesses such as street vendors, hawkers, and simple service providers.
Managa’s exhibition seeks to serve as a beacon of hope, and highlight the resilience of informal sector practitioners. The selection of artworks encompasses a new body of work produced during the lockdown period in 2020.
His chalk pastel drawings explore the adverse effects of the Covid-19 national lockdown in South Africa, on the informal sector and highlight the plight of the street vendors, hawkers, crafters, and simple service providers. His vivid, striking palette evokes a sense of comradery with those small businesses affected and offers the viewer a glimpse of the hustling and bustling city life. The city of Johannesburg has largely influenced his artistic fusion of mixed media in collage and acrylic-based work. These city hustlers constantly have survivalists’ instincts in this state of disaster, which Managa indicates through his applied technique that seems almost at odds with the harsh subject matter.
The images portrayed in Managa’s work are often faceless and emotionless, removing the desires of the street vendors from the viewer. They are often looking away so as not to show emotion. Managa captures the details of their clothing through the post-impressionism technique of pointillism, which he achieves by using tiny dots or applying small strokes of colour to a surface. The application of this technique by Managa, visually suggests and blends space and distance and creates eloquent imagery.
Serving as a vessel of awareness, Managa draws inspiration from his own experiences and visually expresses the realities surrounding food insecurity in a creative, well-cultured way, creating flamboyant renditions, and capturing essential moments in time.
Reminiscent of the work of Durant Sihlali who subsequently also painted street vendors in Kliptown (1980), Managa represents the plight of the people in these tough economic times and aims at restoring hope to these hard-working, often overlooked individuals in society, encouraging them to keep going and solidifying the notion that mankind will survive this pandemic and we will once again rise.
We Will Rise Again is on show at the NWU Botanical Garden Gallery until 9 April 2021. The exhibition is also available to view as a 3D tour online.