Mercedes Benz

The Importance of supporting the arts

So much has been written and documented on African art and yet we still find ourselves not fully acknowledging the crucial role that art plays in our society. In order to understand our identities and to learn about the African diaspora one only needs to look to art as his/her teacher because it documents culture, heritage and changes within society.

For instance Rock Art is another art form that is centuries old, however it has influenced and shaped our active and passive thoughts. In history we have constructed our identities based on what we see, touch and know. Identity is the way we perceive and express ourselves, many aspects of a person’s identity change throughout his or her life. People’s experiences can alter how they see themselves or are perceived by others.

These experiences can be witnessed through the evolution of art. Artists such as Anton van Wouw, Malangatana Ngwenya began to engage with the African identity through their artworks by portraying artworks that confronted who we claimed to be. The African cultural heritage began to evolve and the artist’s work has continued to filter into many areas of African cultural life. 

Mercedes partnered with Art Eye Gallery because their core goal is to build sustainable careers for emerging artists. Art Eye Gallery supports artists who are dedicated to their individual practices, artist’s such as Juanita Frier, Thokozani Mthiyane and Toni Bico to name a few were part of the incubator process. Being part of this process has allowed them to develop and evolve even further and to express narratives that are directly focused on what it means to live in South Africa.

Identity and art are terms that are inseparable to one another and so, how can the importance of art be overlooked by society when it is inherently who we are. All art forms are tightly wrapped around who we have become and who we strive to be as a nation and as individuals, art creates a sense of unity.

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