The making of 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century

The Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) is an amazing petri dish of Africa’s creativity and imagination.

So said Matthew Partridge, contemporary art specialist at Strauss & Co. He was hosting a Strauss & Co online seminar about Javett-UP, attended by around 160 people who came to get the inside story from director Christopher Till and curator Shenaz Mahomed on 3 June 2020.

The art centre, Partridge said, shows what can be achieved when organisations and individuals come together to collaborate and invest in creating a legacy that will stand and serve not only this generation, but those who come after us, too.

Athi Pathra Ruga
The Knight of the Long Knives III by Athi-Patra Ruga

Partnership and collaboration, he said, were central to bringing the opening exhibition, 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century into being. In total, more than 300 works were submitted by galleries and collectors across South Africa to be included in the exhibition that brings together the best representative sample of works by South African artists in the last 100 years.

Selecting the final works was an exhaustive procedure that involved the insight and skill of a selection panel who divided the exhibition themes into four categories: identity; urbanisation and landscape; politics; and religious and traditional values. In all, works from 42 different galleries in South Africa (and a number of private collectors) now comprise the exhibition that, Mahomed told the Strauss & Co delegates, “is the epitome of partnership and an important engagement by Javett-UP with the wider national arts community”.

Indeed, Partridge said, the exhibition gives people an opportunity to view the work of all these galleries under the same roof, in a single visit to Javett-UP. It gives an excellent impression of how “the South African signature” is articulated through the voices of the country’s artists. Watch this space to learn when the 101 Collecting Conversations: Signature Works of a Century will close. In the meantime, follow Javett-UP on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for an artwork-by-artwork discussion of the collection.

The seminar was recorded and has been posted to Strauss & Co’s YouTube channel.

0009 Ester Nxumalo Wedding At Cana
Wedding At Cana by Ester Nxumalo