The thrilling world of African art boasts countless brilliant talents whose creativity has resulted in some of the greatest works the world has ever seen. Through a variety of extraordinary media, today’s African artists have portrayed a range of significant social issues in their magnificent creative works.
Today’s African artists continue to forge an impact on the art world and society as a whole. Tracey Rose is among those who have made a great impact in the way the world views race. Best known for her powerful performances, photographs and video installations, Rose and her renowned works of art continue to inspire collectors of African art like Tunde Folawiyo and many others throughout the world.
Though she now lives in the South African city of Johannesburg, Rose was born in 1974 in Durban, South Africa. She attended Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand where she obtained a BA in Fine Arts in 1996. Teaching at schools such as Vaal South Africa’s Triangle Technikon and the University of the Witwatersrand, Rose was named artist-in-residence in Cape Town in February 2001. Her brilliant work for Venice’s 2001 Biennale was curated by Harald Szeemann.
In the first few years of her career, after graduating, Rose focused on investigating the roles of gender and colour through visual motifs using her own body and body hair. In one of her most well-known works, Rose used surveillance cameras in order to film herself as she shaved off her body hair. She described the act as “about both demasculating and de-feminising” her body.
In the 2nd Johannesburg Biennale, Rose presented the works Span I and Span II at a show curated by Colin Richards. These works portrayed Rose sitting with a shaved head displaying a close-up image of a nude reclining. She is seen knotting strands of her own hair. Taking place in a glass cabinet, the work dealt with Rose’s struggle with beauty, proving a powerful performance for African women all over the world. She referred to the work as a “cleansing, a coming out”.
As Tracey Rose and other African artists continue to bring forth new, innovative works into the art world, Tunde Folawiyo and other collectors of African art may continue to be inspired by these powerful displays of social issues that may continue to impact the world for years to come.