30 September 2019

Comics are usually referred to as publications that have more pictures than words.
What comics offer is far more than pictures though. It is a fascinating genre, rich in social commentary, history, folklore, art and science fiction.

The Art of Comics, in collaboration with the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the French Art Institute and the French Embassy of South Africa, is an exhibition currently underway at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Located in the heart of Johannesburg CBD, it showcases the style of French & Belgian artists that have invented the now-famous genre known as Bande. Bandes Dessineés translates literally into English as ‘drawn strips’. The same genre of literature is called Comics in America.

South African style comics that are as unique and distinctive as the streets of Jozi, are being shown too.

BLQ at the exhibition:

BLQ at The Art Of Comics Exhibition

We attended the opening evening on and the turnout was spectacular. Comic culture is on the rise in South Africa with the advent of Comic Con 2018 South Africa drawing in more than 45 000 people.

Representation and diversity in many industries have always been an issue for people of colour, but Afro-Comics are fast becoming a space where culture, history, and imagined futures are well represented by people of colour.

Artists like Loyiso Mkhize are paving the way forward. Mkhize is the talent behind South Africa’s first real superhero, Khwezi who also happens to be behind The Art of Comics’ visual identity. Mogorosi Motshumi, another pioneer in the area, is credited with being the first black South African to publish an autobiography in a graphic novel format entitled The Initiation. With creatives like these making big strides, it would be hard for anyone not to follow their comic dreams.

Various South African comic styles were represented for all ages alike, including Ray Whitcher, currently producing his original title Wanton as a piece of creative practice research towards his PHD, and Tara Weber, co-curator to the South African part The Art of Comics exhibition.

Maswanganyi Johannes, President PW Botha

Maswanganyi Johannes, President PW Botha

Curator of the French section of the exhibition, Thierry Groensteen, is one of the leading French-speaking bande dessinee researchers having published numerous books and articles on the subject. He is currently a lecturer at the Ecole Europeenne Superieure des Arts et Technologies de L’Image in Angouleme.

BLQ The art comic exhibition

The exhibition offers comic and non-comic lovers alike a colourful and layered art experience. It also offers school holiday programs, comic-making 101 workshops, comic book launches and more till the closing date on the 18th of November.

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