Drawing from the Collection

Drawing from the Collection showcases the variety of drawings and works on paper from the Permanent Collection of Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG). Comprising an eclectic number of unknown and prominent visual artists working in different styles, the show stretches across history and countries to provide an overview of drawing as a medium. Since the dawn of time, drawing has been and still is a vital and central component of visual art.

The exhibition aims to show the strengths and qualities of paper as the medium, comprising of charcoal, watercolours, pen and pencil drawings. It demonstrates the open nature and complexity of the often overlooked and undervalued medium of drawing, which is often regarded as a form of draft rather than a fully realised work. In many ways, drawing offers an undiluted and immediate form of expression, most effective for representing an artist’s ideas.

a
HENTIE VAN DER MERWE (b.1972, South African)
Pegasus
2003
Red watercolour paint on paper
Acc. No: 2008/45

The diversity of techniques and approaches presented in Drawing from the Collection offer a complex answer to the basic question: what does it mean to draw? There are playful sketches, meticulous illustrations and drawings executed as preliminary to another work; there are detailed landscapes that can still be identified today and images of suburbs long demolished such as District Six; architectural, design and fashion drawings; portraits that capture the personality of the sitters and cartoons that lampoon people and many more.

Some works have not seen the light of the day in decades, others have never been shown and the favourites will be included. It is a fantastic opportunity for the public to see what it is in the national collection and to engage with one of the largest and diverse collections at ISANG, which, in many ways, mirror the history of South Africa and ISANG’s collecting policies over the past century.