DR SAME MDLULI is the manager of the Standard Bank Gallery, a position she took up earlier this year. She has a PhD in Art History, which she completed in 2015. Mdluli has worked as an art teacher (while completing her Master’s in Arts and Culture Management with a focus on Heritage Studies), as well as at the Goodman Gallery both in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Name three artworks that you love and why.
I don’t really have any specific artwork that I love, but the following have left a lasting impression on me for various reasons:
Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress, 1926. It is a powerful representation of the artist’s artistic repertoire in that she was bold and elegant. There is a level of honesty to it that Kahlo carried in all her work.
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Crucifixion, 1962. Bacon is one of my favourite painters and in this piece I am both seduced and repulsed by the paint and subject matter. I think that is what makes it a powerful piece.
Cyprian Shilakoe, We Want to See Koko, 1971. Shilakoe had a short life but produced the most extraordinary work during this period. His technical ability in giving his etchings an aura makes him a master of his craft in what he was able to achieve with the technique.
Name one artist you would love to meet.
Kerry James Marshall.
What are you reading at the moment?
Swallow by Sefi Atta.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Say ‘no’ more often.
How have the arts industries in South Africa changed over the last ten years?
Other than the introduction of new younger artists entering the market, there has been very little change in how the industry operates in general. The art market is still highly commercialised and, in some respects, still distant from the social, economic and political issues prevalent in national debates. There are various reasons for this, one of them is the lack of transformation in key strategic positions, such as in the academic and private sectors.
Name one thing you think would improve the arts and culture industry in South Africa.
More financial support of the arts from corporate entities.
What is your most treasured possession?
An old travel document – it is a reminder not to take freedom for granted because my family was once deemed stateless.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Hopelessness. My aunt, who had a physical disability, used to call it the eighth of the seven deadly sins.
What is it that makes you happy?
Describe a defining moment in your life.
Completing my PhD, I became more confident in who I am.
What projects will you be busy with during 2018 and into 2019?
I am currently working on putting together a dynamic exhibition schedule with a more youthful focus for 2019 at the Standard Bank Gallery.
Name one goal you would like to achieve in the next twelve months.
To create a more Pan-African audience for appreciating the arts at Standard Bank Gallery.