Critical cartooning re-ignites thought at Iziko

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Cartoons have a long history of impacting society – Alternative Press, Works by Derek Bauer is no exception. The exhibition showcases original works, and celebrates Bauer as one of South Africa’s finest cartoonists. A visit to the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) takes visitors on a visual journey of review, reverence and reconciliation.

Critical Cartooning Re-Ignites Thought
Critical Cartooning Re-Ignites Thought

Bauer became known for his provocative cartoons, mostly portraying the apartheid government, politicians and prominent figures of the time. The materials included in the exhibition span the period from 1985 –1993. The cartoons provide recollections of South Africa during the turbulent 1980’s. It also portrays the unbanning of political parties such as the African National Congress (ANC), the release of political prisoners, and captures the negotiations which would eventually result in the country’s first democratic elections. He treated all subject matter as equal.

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Bauer’s work appeared in an alternative South African newspaper, the Weekly Mail, where he was able to express his fiercely independent views through the critical art of cartooning. His art influenced the early works of Zapiro and Brandon Reynolds, whose cartoons are also presented as a contemporary capsule within the exhibition.

Critical Cartooning Re-Ignites Thought
Critical Cartooning Re-Ignites Thought

While these illustrations reflect a dark time in South Africa’s history, much of it can still be seen as relevant today.

The cartoons in Alternative Press form part of the ISANG permanent collection. These artworks have remained untouched for more than a decade after the artist’s death on 16 December 2001. Traditionally, displaying cartoons as a medium of art is not seen in museums. This poignant tribute documents key moments in South Africa’s political history, and is geared to encourage contemporary conversations.

Alternative Press, Works by Derek Bauer is on display at the ISANG until 31 March 2018.

Entry to Iziko museums is *FREE on Reconciliation Day, 16 December (excl. Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia and Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome).

Reconciliation Day is significant in South Africa because it recognises two major historical events that took place in the country, namely the Battle of Blood River and the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). Symbolically, the day acknowledges the significance of 16 December in both the Afrikaner and liberation struggle traditions.

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