The undiscovered parts of the picture of South African art history
Having an incomplete picture of your history will encourage you to seek out what is missing to a great extent. The responsibility falls on your shoulders to search for what has been left out of the frame. South African Art history is an archive that should be explored more to be able to fill in the gaps with what has not been documented for us. Often, especially in class rooms and academic institutions, we are taught what was taught to the people teaching us. The same stories are told over and over again, with exceptions here and there. In other words, we are only taught a fraction of our art history with more focus on Western or European art history.
In seeking out to complete the incomplete picture of South African Art history, we read the story of Stanley Nkosi.
Stanley Nkosi was born in Newcastle, Kwazulu-Natal on the 25th of November 1945. He spent a large period of his childhood in Dukhatole near Germiston and and spent his school years there, in Swaziland as well as in Newcastle where he obtained his Junior Certificate.
His practical skills came to life when he became Peter Hayden’s private sculpture student, moved to Katlehong at the age of 17 where he decorated lamp bases at the Artlite factory where he studied privately with Cecil Skotnes. From this vast experience with practical art skills, Nkosi became a full-time artist in 1973. His work has been acknowledged and collected internationally by Harold Macmillan, former British Prime Minister, Diana Ross and many others within the international space. In addition to this, Nkosi holds internationally recognized accolades such as the 1974 Young and Promising British Artists Competition and the 1979 Wildlife of the World Competition 1st Prize.
His biggest contribution to South African art history is what he birthed here at home through his construction of the Katlehong Art Society and the Stanley Nkosi Art Gallery, an art gallery that he built as an extension to his residential home.
Knowing that there were great visual artists who ensured that the creation of their archival spaces would contribute to the documentation of South African art history is helpful because it means that maybe the picture is not absolutely incomplete, there are just undiscovered parts of it.