The Art of Comics Exhibition: French Bandes dessinees and SA Comics in Conversation


The Art of Comics FlyerThe Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), the Embassy of France in South Africa and the French Institute of SA are pleased to present The Art of Comics, an exciting new exhibition that showcases the fascinating worlds of South African comics and French bandes dessinées, the famous French comic style.

The Art of Comics, taking place from 19 September until 17 November 2019 at the JAG, will offer visitors a rich variety of contemporary South African comics and graphic novels that explore themes related to history, folklore, science fiction, autobiography and new developments in the field, such as augmented reality comics. The exhibition will also include a special section on French Speaking Comics Today, curated by Thierry Groensteen, one of France’s leading bande dessinées researchers and theorists.

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Programme and workshops:

Official Opening of The Art of Comics exhibition

Thursday 19 September – Johannesburg Art Gallery

Official opening as part of the After Dark and Museum Night programme 17:00

Panel Discussion at Comic Con Africa

Saturday 21 September – Comic Con Africa, Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand

Discussion with The Art of Comics‘ curators Tara Weber, Ray Whitcher and Thierry Groensteen as well as special guests such as comics artist Moray Rhoda from Reunion Island – 11:00

Public Walkabout

Sunday 22 September – Johannesburg Art Gallery

Walkabout of The Art of Comics exhibition with the curators – 11:00

Heritage Day Programme

Tuesday 24 September– Johannesburg Art Gallery

Children’s workshop with Johannesburg Family Gathering led by illustrator Jess Jardim-Wedepohl 10:00

Special Heritage Day Public Walkabout – 11:00

School Holiday program at JAG

25 – 27 September – Johannesburg Art Gallery

25 September: Introduction to Pop-ups workshop with Young Bucks – 10:00-13:00 (space limited, RSVP essential)

JAG silkscreen demonstration – 14:00-17:00 (space limited, RSVP essential)

26 September: Comics Making 101 workshop with Ray Whitcher – 10:00-12:00 (space limited, RSVP essential)

Comics Making 101 workshop with Bill Masuku – 13:00-15:00 (space limited, RSVP essential)

Comics and Memory

28 September – Johannesburg Art Gallery

Presentation around the importance of comics and animation in interpreting archival material with French artists Camille Duvelleroy (Panama Al Brown) and Oerd Van Cuijlenborg (Accused 2) as well as South African archivists and archives – 13:00

Comics and Queer Identity

29 September – Johannesburg Art Gallery

Launch of Meanwhile Graphic novel of queer stories from East and Southern Africa book launch in partnership with GALA and Qintu Collab – 15:00-17:00

October Program: Comics and Society

The focus of the month will be the importance of comics in social and political commentary. Artists such as Mogorosi Motshumi have made a valuable contribution to society through their cartoons and comics. Workshops, activities and talks will focus on topics related to the theme.

November Program: Beyond the Page – the Future of Comics

This month will focus on workshops that explore the future of comics and the many forms that comics can take, featuring Kay Carmichael, the artist behind web comic Sophie Giant Slayer. More information will be made available online.

Public Walkabout

Sunday 17 November – Johannesburg Art Gallery

Last walkabout with the curators before the closing of the exhibition – 11:00

Ongoing programming:

JAG Art Classes Wednesdays 2-5pm in education studio (open to the public, rsvp essential)

Screenprinting and zine making workshops (on request)

Guided School tours (on request)

For workshop booking:

Various workshops will be organised during the exhibition for schools and the public, led by South African and French experts as well as special guests, to learn about the techniques around comics, animation and augmented reality.

Roy Lichtenstein - Crak! Now, Mes Petits... Pour la France!, 1964
Roy Lichtenstein – Crak! Now, Mes Petits… Pour la France!, 1964

The exhibition is timed to coincide with Comic Con Africa, the continent’s largest comic festival, to give the public a wider look into the world of comics and animation. An estimated 80 000 people attended the inaugural event in South Africa last year, highlighting the popularity of this art form.

The Art of Comics is presented by the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Embassy of France in South Africa and the French Institute of South Africa, and sponsored by Total, who will be bringing more than 800 students to the exhibition.

Discover South African & French Talent

Johannes Maswanganyi, - President PW Botha
Johannes Maswanganyi, – President PW Botha

The work of important South African artists, including Loyiso Mkize, Mogorosi Motshumi and Luke Molver, will be on display. Mkize is the talent behind South Africa’s first real superhero, Khwezi, and behind The Art of Comics‘ visual identity, while Motshumi is the first black South African to publish an autobiography in a graphic novel format, entitled The Initiation. Molver is the artist behind the 1980s comic strip Sloppy. He will soon be launching the second edition of his Shaka Rising graphic novel series.

Some of the best French bandes dessinées artists will be showcased, including Riad Sattouf, cartoonist, comic artist, and film director who worked for the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo and wrote The Secret Life of Teenagers, as well as Pénélope Bagieu, author of the successful illustrated blog My Life is Fascinating, and Lewis Trondheim, an award-winning comic author, who created the independent bande dessinée publishing house L’association.

The work of other artists linked to animation and innovative formats, such as virtual reality, will also be displayed, including a VR experience of the short film Accused 2, based on sound archives from the famous Rivonia trial.

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