The Artists' Press
David Koloane was born in the township of Alexandra (Gauteng) in 1938. Koloane became interested in art during high school and made art in his spare time, in between earning an income in various jobs to support his family. Between 1974 and 1977 he attended art classes at the Bill Ainslie Studios, which later became the Johannesburg Art Foundation. David Koloane's increasing commitment to art led him to a part-time and later full time teaching position in a township high school. Koloane then went on to become the head of the Fine Art section of the Federated Union of Black Artists (FUBA) in Johannesburg. David Koloane participated in a number of The Triangle International Artists Workshops. This experience led to the establishment of the Thupelo Workshops in South Africa, a concept that spread to Botswana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Koloane realised that what was needed in Johannesburg, particularly for Black artists was access to permanent studio space. To this end he was instrumental in establishing The Fordsburg Artists Studios (The Bag Factory) with Robert Loder and Ricky Burnett in 1991.
David Koloane's creative activities have been diverse. He has always combined his own artwork with his social involvement. He has contributed to several catalogues, curated exhibitions, sat on judging panels, The National Arts Council advisory panel and has delivered numerous papers abroad and at home while attending workshops and conferences all over the world. In 1998, the government of The Netherlands honoured Koloane with The Prince Claus Fund Award for his contribution to the development of the visual arts in South Africa.
Artists statement: "My concern in socio-political matters and contributions to the furtherance of disadvantaged black South African artists during and after the apartheid era is evident. My work can be said to reflect the socio-political landscape of South Africa both past and present. The socio political conditions created by the apartheid system of government have to a large extent transfixed the human condition as the axis around which my work evolves. The human figure has become the icon of creative expression".
DAVID KOLOANE, JOBURGâ€™S CARING ARTIST
25th June, 2003, Joburg.org
Johannesburg-based artist David Koloane considers himself to be a late starter. But in the same breath he'll tell you he's been a catalyst in encouraging black artists to explore their potential.
Koloane, a gentle, serious man of 65 who describes his work as "urban expression", has been producing art for almost three decades. He has exhibited in solo exhibitions internationally and locally, and has his art in galleries and private collections worldwide. Through his art he tried to represent the experiences of black South Africans, at the same time helping black artists to reach their artistic potential when the apartheid odds were stacked heavily against them.
It's been a hard struggle for them, he says, because the temptation is to produce "township" or "airport" art, the stereotyped, stylised art that sells readily and helps artists make a living. His quest has been to encourage artists to go beyond this, and to "look into themselves and find their own vocabulary".
He says he made a breakthrough in 1985 when he returned from a workshop in New York, and realised that a workshop situation was the perfect vehicle to bring artists together - to invite them to meet in one common space, the Thupello (Sesotho for "training by example") International Artists' Workshop in Broederstroom, around 20 kilometres north-west of Johannesburg. "This liberated artists from their confined way of working," he says. He fundraised, bought materials and explored new techniques with up-and-coming artists.
These artists were given an unheard-of opportunity to express themselves through art away from overcrowded home environments - even having a garage to work in a township was unknown. And, they were given exposure to foreign artists at a time when the cultural boycott kept artists from coming to South Africa.