“During the anti-apartheid struggle, arts and culture played a very important role in demonstrating the conditions people lived under, and also their aspirations. There is value in those who are part of history telling the story, but you might miss something precisely because you were directly connected. Li Bin’s massive artwork [on Mandela’s life] represents the element of a needed dispassionate participant.” – David Makhura on Li Bin’s epic A Salute to Mandela painting.
The elected Premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhura made a sho’t left to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) to view the 38m long A Salute to Mandela painting by Chinese artist Li Bin on Wednesday, 6 May 2015.
On arrival in the late afternoon at the innovatively designed establishment, the premier was welcomed by the University’s leadership: Acting Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala; Executive Director of Advancement, Mr Milcho Damianov; Vice Dean of FADA and Head of Interior Design, Prof Amanda Breytenbach; Department of Visual Art’s Prof Karen; and Mr Markus Hermann from the Zendai SA Corporation.
During a walk-through of the painting by the artist, Makhura moved casually through the depiction of Nelson Mandela’s life as a Prisoner, President and Peacemaker. “Art is about interpretation,” he joked with the academic entourage. He shared anecdotes of what he could recall from some of the historical events curated in the painting which took the renowned Chinese artist almost two years to complete.
“This is a very impressive work. The story of Mandela has been told by many people in many different ways. Looking at it from an artist’s point of view is a very refreshing representation, and quite impactful. Li Bin has told the Mandela story in a way that it hasn’t been told before by many books that have been written. Many people who have been part of Mandela’s life including those of us who worked with him in the 90s when he came out of prison, would not have told this story this way,” said Makhura.