As South Africans commemorate Freedom Day, artists have depicted freedom in their work.
In their own words, the artists tell stories of South African’s perception of freedom.
The artworks showcase the artist’s view of the country’s current reality, past and future.
Artist: Semi Lubisi ( @semi_sa )
“This painting is a representation of one of the events that led to the Liberation & Freedom of South Africa.” – Semi Lubisi
The events of the 21st March 1960, where the Apartheid Police Force fired on a crowd of Black people, killing or wounding some 250 of them in Sharpeville, near Vereeniging. It was one of the first and most violent demonstrations against apartheid in South Africa.
The protest was against the Pass Laws, thousands of people left their passes at home and marched to Sharpeville Police Station to surrender themselves for refusing to carry passes chanting freedom songs and calling out the campaign slogans “Izwe lethu” (Our land); “Awaphele amapasti” (Down with passes); “Sobukwe Sikhokhele” (Lead us Sobukwe); “Forward to Independence, Tomorrow the United States of Africa.”
Titled: Winnie Mandela
Artist: Semi Lubisi ( semi_sa )
“The images are a symbol of Strength & courage endured by all women who in one way or another contributed to the fight for the Liberation and Freedom of South Africa…” – Semi Lubisi
“Winnie Mandela played a major role in the struggle towards the Liberation and Freedom of South Africa. She emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the latter part of her husband’s imprisonment. Due to her political activities, she was regularly detained by the National Party government.
In 1958, Winnie along with tens of thousands of women, took to the streets of Johannesburg to protest the issuing of pass books to black women. The passbooks enabled the government to control the movement of black people; inhibiting them from entering white areas (except if it was for specific types of work) and enforced racial segregation.”
Titled: Uzuri – The beauty of peace
Artist: Kgahliso Taunyane (_artisticqueen)
“Uzuri is the face of hope. A vision of what our future will look like…” – Kgahliso Taunyane
With femicide being on the rise, Uzuri is the face of hope. A vision of what our future will look like once we have put a stop to gender-based violence. Uzuri means the beauty of being at peace, a belief that we will one day stand tall and radiate peace.
Artist: Samkelo Matomela (@samkelo_matomela)
“For me, the use of a butterfly is a beacon of hope, change, and freedom.” – Samkelo Matomela
“For me, the use of a butterfly is a beacon of hope, change, and freedom. I use a butterfly as a metaphor in my work. It also displays what I see in people that surround me and my experience at that moment. A symbol of beauty, the transition or metamorphosis from being cocooned to being finally free to spreading their wings and showing their beauty to the world.”
Artist: Julia (@julia_reilly_artist)
“I painted a nude woman to depict liberation and freedom.”– Julia
“I did this painting in oils on canvas paper in 2019. What inspired me to paint this picture was the music festival “Woodstock” which took place in 1969 on a dairy farm in Bethal, New York.”
“I was looking at photographs taken at the festival and saw just how free and happy everyone was. No barriers. No hatred. Just love and peace. I painted a nude woman to depict liberation and freedom. She is comfortable in her own skin and has freed herself from all expectations, stereotypes, and pressures. She is simply herself. And that is freedom. To be completely yourself as a whole person.”
Titled: the way maker
Artist: Malose Pete ( @the_chicken_den_art_studio)
“One has the freedom to exercise their culture and cultural practices…” – Malose Pete
“The artwork is titled:” The way maker”.
“It depicts a man crossing flooded waters through the strength of cattle. Looked through the freedom theme, it can be said to be a celebration of the freedom of cultural expression. I believe culture was formulated around the tackling of our daily activities, hopes, and dreams. So when one has the freedom to exercise their culture and cultural practices, they tackle any flood with the confidence backed up by what they believe their culture can achieve.” – Malose Pete
Artist: Kristen Bowers (@_kris_create_)
“She decided at a young age that this was a cause that she would continue to fight for the rest of her life, freedom…” – Kristen Bowers
“This piece was inspired by Sadia Solomon who was actively involved in riots against the apartheid regime, having taken so many rubber bullets in the tandem, she is an inspiration to her community.
After seeing so much oppression and enduring many hardships, she decided at a young age that this was a cause that she would continue to fight for the rest of her life, freedom, and equality for all. With her strength and wisdom, we show appreciation towards her for being a part of the group that stood before us and fought the struggle so that today we are all free and a part of a rainbow nation.”
Titled ” power to the Narrative
Stephen Langa (@stephen_langa_art) and Gabriel Bambo (acute photography)
“As we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation, the great responsibilities that we now have, and the bright future that beckons us as one.” -Stephen Langa
“The ultimate goal is to empower a better life for all has yet to realized on this day. The people should come together as one especially during this difficult time as we in the pandemic we as artists which are currently affecting us and the society as a whole, by working together we can do more last and far most its also incorporate of Black Lives Matter.”
Titled: State of Emerging
“It is said that it takes a village to raise a child, and also that, a child neglected by the village, eventually returns to burn it. State of emerging is a piece about the collective freedom among people whose aim is coming together in unison. In the drawing; what appears to be two celebrated champions raised to the top, are in actual fact the weakest links of a group that has chosen to uplift and empower them. As a result, they will also emerge in a free and fair society. We, the people of South Africa are the Rainbow, therefore, also depicted in the drawing are colourful energies (chakras), connected to each individual on the ground, symbolising their power and ability to help others.”
Titled: The Conversations of a Man and The Conqueror
Artist: Great Joy Ndlovu Art (ngreatjoy1)
Title: God form. The Year is 2087