Veteran struggle icons pay tribute to Madiba at UJ

“It is amazing and to be featured in such an iconic painting is truly an honour. This is me (pointing at the painting) and I’m excited and thrilled to be part of such an epic piece of work.”​

These were former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Aziz Pahad’s sentiments, when he, alongside retired civil servants Dr Essop Pahad, Dr Wally Serote and Ambassador George Nene viewed the 38m long painting A Salute to Mandela at the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) Gallery on Tuesday, 5 May 2015.

Dr Essop Pahad also commented on the importance of the events captured on the artwork, during the moving visit by Mandela’s former peers. “It is important to revisit our history over and over again, for the younger generations.”

Created by Chinese artist Li Bin over a period of two years, the tribute artwork is now in its last week of exhibition at the University. The spectacle is undertaken in collaboration with the University’s Confucius Institute, which aims to promote the Chinese language and culture in South Africa.

“I did a lot of research on this country and gathered a lot of material in 2012, when I was here. I designed the whole painting like a rainbow capturing three journeys of prisoner-Mandela; President Mandela and peacemaker-Mandela,” said Li Bin on the background of the painting.

A Salute to Mandela depicts former South African President Nelson Mandela’s lifelong struggle for peace and tolerance in three segments, “Prisoner”, “President” and “Peacemaker.”​

Says Li Bin: “Mandela is a global icon. He is deserves this kind of documentation and portrait.”

Before the 21-panel artwork was shipped to South Africa as the country celebrates 21 years of democracy, it was exhibited in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It will run until Friday, 8th of May 2015. It wraps with a public conversation titled: ‘Art, Democracy, Diplomacy and the limits of Representation: Critical Reflections on Li Bin’s A Salute to Mandela.’

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