David Koloane, Under The Bridge II, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 63 × 63".

David Koloane, Under The Bridge II, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 63 × 63".

David Koloane

Standard Bank Gallery

Wits Art Museum

The passing of artist and writer David Koloane at eighty-one not long after the opening of the first iteration of this traveling retrospective at Cape Town’s Iziko South African National Gallery reignited the questions he posed almost two decades prior: “What defines a South African expression? What paradigms would typify the expression? And what criterion to employ in a society virtually divided into distinct and separate worlds?” Though these queries were asked twenty years ago, their urgency remains, unsettling any cavalier mention of a “South African art.” These demands, easily taken for granted today thanks to the world’s current insatiable appetite for African contemporary art, appertain not only to national culture but also to the nation itself. 

Koloane was born in 1938 in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township, and worked various jobs before turning to art in the mid-1970s under the

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