JAG is fortunate to host A labour of love, following its much vaunted run in Frankfurt, Germany in 2015-2016.
The story of this exhibition can be traced back to 1986, when the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt on Main commissioned Hans Blum to buy works of contemporary South African art on their behalf. Blum acquired 600 works by black South African artists, which today forms a key part of the contemporary art collection of Museum.
Having lived in South Africa from the early 1960s until the late 1970s, Blum was the right person for the job. His involvement in the anti-apartheid movement led him to recognise the power of contemporary South African art as a means of creating awareness about the political situation in the country.
A labour of love comes 28 years after the first exhibition of this collection was held in Frankfurt. It re-examines a selection of more than 150 works inspired by very different readings of the idea of ‘love’ – prints, paintings, sculptures, and to date unpublished archival materials, reflect on the theme from interpersonal relations to the passion and commitment which influenced both the creation of the works and the history of the collection’s acquisition. At JAG the exhibition will at certain moments be in conversation with works from JAG’s own collection - some of which were created by artists whose work forms part of the collection at the Weltkulturen Museum.
The exhibition also integrates a contemporary perspective on this special collection through ten new works produced by Gabi Ngcobo and four South African former students from the Wits School of Arts, Michelle Monareng, Matshelane Xhakaza, Chad Cordeiro and Nathaniel Sheppard. These works are the fruits of the time the young artists spent with the collection and its specific history. In this process of artistic reappraisal, the students have responded to the collection by creating new prints and videos. This perspective is further expanded by works created in the Weltkulturen Labor by Sam Nhlengethwa, during a residency in July 2015.
The accompanying publication not only includes new articles by Yvette Mutumba, Gabi Ngcobo, Ciraj Rassool, Same Mdluli and Neo Muyanga, but also interviews with, among others, David Koloane, Peter Clarke, Bongi Dhlomo-Mautloa, Charles Nkosi and Lionel Davis. In addition, it contains unique archival material as well as numerous images of works from the museum's collection and new productions. Published in German and English by Kerber Verlag.
With the support of the Goethe-Institut, Hans Blum’s participation promises to be a highlight of the public programme accompanying A Labour Of Love. Goethe-Institut will also support Artucation, an interdisciplinary arts education programme by Keep the Dream Arts, that will bring high school learners from Johannesburg’s inner city to see the exhibition and initiate dialogues commenting on their social, political and personal environment. The participating schools were selected on basis of their proximity to the JAG.
A labour of love opens on Sunday, 13th August 2017, 4 pm and will run from 14th August 2017 to 5th November 2017. Entrance is free.
Johannesburg Art Gallery, Cnr Klein and King George Streets, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Gallery Hours: Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm
Funded by the TURN Fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation, with kind support from Hessische Kulturstiftung, Lufthansa Cargo, The WITS School of Arts: Fine Arts, WITS, Weltkulturen Freundeskreis, Stadt Frankfurt am Main, Museumsufer Frankfurt, Goethe-Institut Südafrika. Media partner: Contemporary And.