Everard Read, the oldest commercial art gallery in Africa, shows leadership with online exhibitions supporting the collective project tagged “Solidarity Fund” in South Africa. The fund supports vulnerable people affected by the Coronavirus pandemic in the country. In early April the gallery launched its first exhibition for the Solidarity Fund, bringing together almost 50 artists from across South Africa. Now, it is running its second exhibition for the same project, titled “Us” after the work of South African artist Brett Murray.
The premise for Everard Read’s first digital COVID-19 exhibition, Staring Straight to the Future, was to demonstrate that “new contexts can amplify or give renewed life and meaning to artworks”. In this ongoing exhibition, their proposition remains the same, thus asking the question, “How much more are we all “Us” now?” in the pandemic crisis. In Murray’s polished bronze “Us” created in 2018, the two nagapies (bushbabies) clinging to each other, with eyes like saucers staring in bewilderment, were an apt metaphor for the artist and his wife as parents and indeed people in South Africa during the #GuptaLeaks scandal. In the context of today’s global crisis, what does the work inspire?
The gallery states that other artworks in the exhibition might also take on fresh or expanded meaning in new contexts such as the pandemic. “Similarly Caryn Scrimgeour’s apparently prescient table setting Silent Scream might resonate with many in enforced domestic confinement. The sanctuary has become the prison. Nigel Mullins’s Pale Liberty, originally painted as a riposte to the dwindling American Dream, with the talismanic Statue of Liberty fading, now becomes repurposed as an ode to a city that has lost more lives to the virus than to 9/11 – an event which saw the beginning of the very same erosion of liberty and America’s apparent withdrawal into myopia.”
Other artists in the exhibition are Nelson Makamo, Sanell Aggenbach, Caryn Scrimgeour, Neill Wright, Norman Catherine, Elize Vossgatter, Deborah Bell, Andrzej Urbanski, Michael MacGarry, Tanya Poole, Dylan Lewis, Ignatius Mokone, Beezy Bailey, Nic Bladen, Jop Kunneke, Colbert Mashile, Barbara Wildenboer, Ricky Dyaloyi, Vusi Khumalo, Speelman Mahlangu, Io Makandal, Richard Penn, Paula Louw, Lionel Smit, and Setlamorago Mashilo.
The Solidarity Fund is South Africa’s government independent platform set up to provide support for the ill and vulnerable whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic in South Africa. President Cyril Ramaphosa launched it with a seed capital of R150 million. However, it is run by the private sector and allows individuals, companies and members of the international community to make tax-deductible donations. Received donations will also go to the purchase of critical medical supplies to protect health workers in the country. 50% of Everard Read’s proceeds from the COVID-19 exhibitions will go to the Solidarity Fund, after artist payments.
See more works on Everard Read here. The exhibition is ‘actively’ on view until April 30, 2020.