Created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s establishment of the Solidarity Fund, Staring Straight to the Future is presented by Everard Read galleries. It’s an online exhibition of works by eminent South African artists, with 50% of the gallery proceeds going to the fund, after artist payments.
Staring Straight to the Future, explains curator Charles Shields, takes its title from an artwork by Bambo Sibiya, and “aims to resonate as a tender anthem, giving succour in some way, encouraging gratitude for what we’ve had and —hopefully — inspiration for what we will seek out when this time is over”.
In his exhibition notes, Shields evocatively writes, “Could… Deborah Bell, whose Sentinels (2020) were conceived as gatekeepers for humanity — holding the centre in a chaotic world — have imagined the scale of the tsunami from which we might need protection? Could Ricky Dyaloyi have imagined how his depiction of the clamouring streets of Khayelitsha titled Feisty Survivors might become both an ode to resilience and a prayer for clemency?”
As Shields suggests, the meanings of these artworks are being created anew right now — and this offering up of new and fresh meanings is one reason why art always has so much to say to us during times like these. Whether you are looking for questions, for answers, for challenges, for clemency, for hope, or simply for the momentary relief that can come from pure aesthetic pleasure, you will undoubtedly find it in Staring Straight to the Future. It’s a remarkable show to have put together in such a short space of time, and is testament to the excellence of both South Africa’s artists and the country’s contemporary galleries.
Staring Straight to the Future brings together the work of almost 50 artists from across SA, including the likes of Nelson Makamo, Lady Skollie, Nic Bladen, Mmakgabo Mmapula Helen Sebidi, Norman Catherine, Phillemon Hlungwani, Blessing Ngobeni, Sasha Hartslief, and Colbert Mashile. It is nothing less than an art-star-studded lineup, and almost every piece on the show is breathtaking in its beauty and scope.
In addition to directing half the proceeds to the Solidarity Fund, the exhibition aims to continue to sustain the livelihoods of many self-employed artists as well as studio and foundry staff. As an ongoing commitment, Everard Read galleries in South Africa will also donate 10% of subsequent sales made during the lockdown to the Solidarity Fund.
Says the Everard Read group, “As South Africa confronts a health and economic crisis unlike any other in the history of its democracy, our artists and staff wish to contribute to the collective effort to help prevent the spread of the virus, care for those who are ill, and support those whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.”