HISTORIC ART EXHIBITION
By: Winston Sibanda
Thami Jali brought life to the Durban Art Gallery on Tuesday evening as he exhibited his Restless Spirit pieces.
Jali’s exhibition has been described as a master piece by many who witnessed its official opening.
His curator, Jenny Strehon, said that the exhibition which had the theme of ‘Thami’s restless spirit’ was a highlight of his life. Black paintings were the highlight of the evening. Strehon described them as Jali’s favourite and she stated that Jali was determined to make them work.
“Our first canonical order was rejected, he felt that his thematic exposure was what best defined him and we had to give him a chance. This piece best describes what he went through during the 80s and it is the first step in trying to understand him,” said Strehon.
Jali told the audience that as an artist his objective is to allow people to view his work and find their ways of interpreting it. He said he was inspired by the environment around him to work on the Black paintings.
When Jali relocated to Durban in 2007, he worked with Zamani Makhanya at the studios in Pumba. He said that life is different in South Africa 20 years after democracy. Jali explained that one of his paintings titled ‘whoonga boy’ relates to the life lived by youths today. He described art as a great tool for expressing himself.
Jali said, “Steve Biko once said he writes what he likes, so us as painters we should paint what we want without fear it is a way of expressing ourselves and communicating.”
He urged the nation to take people’s lives seriously. He looked back at the Marikana incident and said, “When many people die at once we should be concerned and something must be done.”
Paul Mikula, who was the guest speaker of the evening, described Jali’s work as an emotional piece of work that highlights people’s pains and joys.
“We grew up in the artificial part of the apartheid Durban, Thami grew up in the real African township of Durban and he has shown the bitterness of life in those days and how people made the best out of it through his paintings,” Mikula said.
He urged people to take art seriously as it does not have boundaries. He acknowledged artists for being people who question everything around them and come up with different interpretations of life around them.
Thami’s brother, Zamani Jali, said the exhibition gave the family an opportunity to share Thami’s a work with everyone. He said that Thami comes from a family of artists and his achievements are a symbol of family achievement.
Zamani said that Thami dropped out of school to pursue art and he has made a name for himself.
Jali closed the event with a gumboot dance performance, which he described as a symbol of African originality. He urged people to stay in touch with their identity and continue supporting artists in their journey of art.
According to Thami Jali’s, his exhibition was an update and he is working on more to come.