It's like in the bad old days! The Tretchikoff retrospective at the South African National Gallery (finished last Sunday) is now heavily criticised. The director's decision to hold is is heavily debated on the gounds that Tretchi was 'a fifth-rate' racist painter:
'His images of blacks are patronising, paternalistic and ethnographically inaccurate, and the artist’s female sitters are consistently turned into available sexual objects. One is thus forced to ask why on earth Iziko saw fit to glorify a fifth-rate artist and retailer of the most invidious colonialist bigotry, with a retrospective at the National Gallery' say critics.
Andrew Lamprecht, the curator of the exhibition, replies: 'His (Tretchikoff’s) work should be viewed in context. It should be viewed in the context of the time (it was produced). It is less racist than comparable South African artists.'
Andrew is right. But the problem with that exhibition was precisely the lack of contextualising. Had it been otherwise, the show would have been viewed differently - and more sympathetically, I'm sure.
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