Home Is Where the Art Is – an exhibition by and for Capetonians at Zeitz MOCAA

By Jaime Uranovsky

Like many museums and galleries, the Zeitz MOCAA has been closed for most of 2020.

After seven long months without visitors, curators launched a unique exhibition to celebrate its reopening and to honour and welcome back guests – specifically, Capetonians. An open call was made for submissions of art ‘made, owned and loved’ by Capetonians.

The response was overwhelming, and the Museum received thousands of entries. Ultimately, more than 1600 artists submitted works of art and over 1800 pieces were included for Home Is Where the Art Is. Of the participating artists, more than 100 belong to the Cape Town Jewish Community which, while wonderful, unfortunately renders acknowledgement of each of them impossible in this piece.

Participants were given a five-day period in October during which they could drop off their pieces. Seven drop-off points around the city (comprising art centres, art schools, galleries and the like) were made available to make the process accessible for all.

For some, the experience of dropping off pieces was one of the most meaningful parts of exhibiting.

Janet Kriseman, who chose to drop off her painting Christine at the Zeitz itself, explained that the process took around two and a half hours with the line of contributors winding right around the museum. Each artwork was inspected and insured in front of the entrant with a lot of care. Janet described how the contributor in front of her began crying upon being told by a Zeitz attendant that her piece (which included detachable elements) may not have been able to be assembled in the way the artist had intended. However, after seeing the woman’s distress, the attendant sprang into action and fetched a curator who assured the artist, after listening, that her piece would be presented as she had envisioned. Janet explains, “To me it showed, firstly, how incredibly precious and important these pieces were to the people who were bringing them and how important it was that they be displayed properly. It makes you think about what everybody’s got at home in their hearts that they care so much about; and secondly, the level of care that the Zeitz has brought to this thing. The way they went the extra mile to find a way to accommodate what this woman wanted and needed”.

What follows is just a taste, in the form of comments from some of the many Jewish contributors, of what awaits viewers at the exhibition:

Patsy Groll: Neill (2020) “I submitted my painting of my friend Neill Snape. He and his wife, Jos, have been friends of mine since long before I met my husband, Allan. We met in about 1977 and have been friends ever since. Their children have been good friends with our children and they are my son’s godparents and chose his Hebrew name. Neil is a wonderful, exuberant character and I’m hoping my painting shows that I didn’t plan to submit this when I painted it. I just painted it and then decided to submit it. It is oil on paper, which has a sense of freedom without the boundaries of canvas for me”.

Neill, Patsy Groll (2020)

Janet Kriseman: Christine (1964) “I painted Christine when I was four years old in nursery school. It was of my then nanny…. You can see from the outfit it’s fully ‘60s with the afro, the bell-bottoms, the vest and the colours. Christine actually stayed with our family for the next 30-plus years and she was a very important person to me. I had an aunt, Hilda Kriseman, who lived in London. She came to visit South Africa, and she loved the painting and asked to have it and she took it back with her to England. She died about five or six years ago and it came back here. So we’ve had this child’s painting for 56 years in the family”.

Christine, Janet Kriseman (1964)

Deborah Lazarus: By The Waterfall (2017); From The Forest (2017); Changeling (2017). “My daughter, Mila Jade Lazarus, eight years, submitted By The Waterfall to the exhibition as it is one of her favourite artworks created by me. This artwork usually hangs in our dining room – so we spent much of lockdown looking at it! By The Waterfall is inspired by time spent with my daughter in the forests and gardens of Cape Town. The image draws on magical and peaceful times we have spent with family and friends exploring Newlands Forest and surrounds. It is wonderful to be a part of this incredible inclusive exhibition being hosted by Zeitz MOCAA”.

By The Waterfall, Deborah Lazarus (2017)

Shirley Musikanth-Zacks on behalf of herself, Bernice Musikanth, Kyle Zacks, Gareth Zacks, Maxine Zacks and Dylan Zacks: Connect (2018); Proteas in Pastels (2020); Hermanus Tree (2015); Blue Bay (2019); Sunrise (2020); Dreams (2015). “Art is, in our family, a passion and appreciation which started with my late Grandmother, Ida Atlas… and continued through my mother, Bernice Musikanth… From an early age, I always loved being creative and immersed in the world of Art and studied at Michaelis. I decided to submit a wall-hanging ceramic piece, consisting of three discs with contemporary and vintage 2-D and 3-D sculptured elements, reflecting and commenting on our connection and communication with one another and how it is changing. The works I submitted on behalf of my children are all different, from photographic (Kyle Zacks) to a water colour boat (Gareth Zacks), to a sunset acrylic (Maxine Zacks) and oil pastels (Dylan Zacks). My mom, Bernice Musikanth, submitted a recent oil painting on canvas, titled Proteas in Pastels”.

Desrae Saacks: View from a train (2017) is from a series of paintings I made, inspired by train travel. I chose this painting for its simplicity and containment, and the way that the paint expresses the mood and atmosphere of the moment, and the gesture of the brush. It is oil on canvas”.

View from a train, Desrae Saacks (2017)

Sheryl Schkolne: Cape Floral Kingdom (2014) “I’m a graduate of Michaelis, and I majored in painting but I’ve been doing ceramics for probably over 20 years. The two ceramic vessels that are included in the exhibition are part of a group of 11 that I did on the theme of South African flowers, fynbos and indigenous flowers, together with quotes that talked to me, that I worked on for quite a long time”.

The exhibition opened on 22 October and runs until 10 January 2021, on Thursday to Sundays. Tickets can be purchased online, and are valid for multiple entries for the duration of the exhibition.

The art has been categorised as follows:

  • ‘Homemade Gems’: For those who view their art as a hobby;
  • ‘Young Artist in Residence’: Art created by children;
  • ‘Professional Practise’ Reserved for full-time artists for whom art is a career;
  • ‘With Love from Gogo’: Art received as a present from friends, family and loved ones;
  • ‘Local Loves’: For artists from around the African continent.

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

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