Well -the 101st annual Exhibition opened on Saturday 12pm. There was the usual crush of bodies pressed together into the Sanlam Hall at Kirstenbosch. The temperature reached 32 degrees and people were beginning to blot the sweat off their faces while Fula Paxinos, the Chairman of the South African Society of Artists gave her opening welcome.
David Biggs, Cape Times columist, was the guest speaker. He praised the quality of the exhibition in general, making the point that the majority of the paintings were by women and showed an ebullience, joyfullness,happiness and sense of humour that was in marked contrast to the gloom and darkness of art produced during the struggle period of the 1980's. He praised the people of Cape Town for their remarkable spirit of cheerfulness and optimism which again was not evident in the faces of South African politicians! (mostly men of course!)
Art-making up until fairly recently in History has been an all-male domain. Woman in the earlier centuries were only allowed to mix pigments for their Masters. After about a year of this grinding work the ones who showed any particular talent (although I suspect it was those who gave their masters certain other particular favours and pleased them in other ways!) were perhaps allowed to paint a piece of the master's work - fill in the large flat areas with colour or other menial tasks - this was how the term "Master-piece" came into being.
I found myself once again swallowing a certain feeling of resentment at this patronising attittude and realised that there was still a lot of it about - towards women in general and Art in particular. This is most evident in the Sporting and Art arenas in South Africa. Our TV gives women no sport coverage. As for Art - well I cannot remember when I last saw any TV about Art or artists! There is a little choral and operatic work which is Government-sponsored but it seems there is no money for the Visual Arts unless it is of a Political Nature.
Unfortunately all this does is highlight the lack of education, finesse, knowledge, finer-feeling, and morality of those in power.