South Africa Architecture and Arts
The first buildings of European influence are due to the trade of Dutch companies: typical style settlements (1652) in Table Bay (od. Cape Town) enriched by the pentagonal fortress of the Castle of Good Hope. The French LM Thibault is among the first architects able to work both for the Dutch and, after 1795, for the British, introducing a neoclassical style in public buildings. The 19th century. notes strong English influences: shapes and proportions derived from the eighteenth-century Georgian style and the nineteenth-century regency style (Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth), to which were added stylistic features of the Greek and Gothic revivals, as in the Dutch Reformed churches designed by the German CO Hager after 1850. The increase in commercial and industrial activities was echoed in the elegant buildings built in the 1880s and 90s in Johannesburg (AH Reid; WH Stucke). The first half of the 20th century it was affected by the widespread presence of the English architect H. Baker. Free stylistic combinations mark the work of the premises WH Louw (Voortrekker Monument, near Pretoria, 1936), and G. Moerdijk (Dutch Reformed church in Sunnyside, 1927). After World War II, N. Eaton was responsible for contemporary and traditional stylistic combinations (House Greenwood, near Pretoria, 1949-51). The 1960s were affected by the influence of North American architects and L. Kahn (works by W. Meyer, by D. Theron or by R. Uytenbogaardt etc.). The architectures of the 1980s and 1990s have struggled to affirm a specificity that is not limited to the simple recovery of local morphologies. The trend towards the megastructural dimension is visible in the RAU (Rand Afrikaans University) buildings in Johannesburg by W. Meyer and others; the postmodern building is inspired by the HSRC building in Pretoria di Pauw et al. (1988), while a renewed form of classicism is found in the Bank City in Johannesburg, by Revel Fox & Partners (1994). Sandton Library and Civic Offices in Johannesburg, by GAPP Architects & Urban Designers, and the Center for Justice at the University of Natal in Durban, by H. Custers Smith, from the 1990s, still highlight the influence of L. Kahn. Joe Nero Architects, on the other hand, has developed a form of modern African functionalism, measured on the climatic conditions and available resources (Careers center in Soweto, Johannesburg, 1994; offices for Velocity Film in Johannesburg, 1995). In the same years, examples of local architecture are not lacking, with the recovery of the veranda motif and the use of strong colors and traditional materials (in Durban: Rodney Harber Educational Center, Masson & Associates, 1992 and Walters & Cohen Art Gallery). Also worth mentioning: the expansion of the historic cricket pitch in Port Elizabeth with the Erasmus Duckpond Pavilion, Rushmere and Reid (1994); Retail Center Nyanga in Cape Town and Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg (2001), by GAPP Architects; Unicity Mayoral Chambers by K. Roos in Cape Town, 2002. For South Africa 2013, please check physicscat.com.
A long period of elaboration of an artistic conscience, which reflects the dramatic political, social and cultural situation of the country and the search for a new national identity, began in particular after the Soweto uprising. In this process, the knowledge and re-evaluation of the artistic experience of black artists occupies an important space, as well as the overcoming of hierarchies and contrasts between artistic and artisanal, rural and urban, traditional and contemporary forms and expressions, which finds expression in artists such as S. Kumalo, L. Sithole, L. Maqhubela. Spontaneous phenomenon was the township art, which emerged from the 1950s, inspired by the violence and poverty of the townships: M. Zwelidumile Mxgazi, known as Dumile; D. Silhali; J. Motau; E. Ngatane; A. Thoba; D. Mbele; after 1976, among the exponents of an artistic resistance movement, we remember D. Koloane, W. Bester. They emerged in the official reviews, are black artists such as J. Hlungwane and N. Mabasa; W. Kentridge, risen to international fame, is one of the white South African artists who in drawings and animated films has addressed the themes of memory, responsibility for the consequences of apartheid and the holocaust. Among other artists, Bester, known for paintings and assemblages of salvaged objects; S. Kriel, who denounces injustices and discrimination in embroidery and weaving. Since 1993, after years of isolation due to its apartheid policy, South Africa has participated in the Venice Biennale (Hlungwane, Kriel, Koloane, Mabasa, Bester, Kentridge, P. Siopis, K. Nel, K. Geers). Other visions of the South African experience emerge in the grotesque and ironic figurations of R. Hodgins; in the engravings and designs of fabrics by A. Mbatha; in the works (paintings, sculptures, collages, installations, videos) by S. Williamson, P. Stopforth, Siopis, C. van den Berg, J. Alexander, J. Ractliffe, Z. Mthethwa, T. Motswai, M. Richnan Buthelezi, M. Vari, M. Langa.