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Filling the Holes                                

A new exhibit at Standard Bank Art Gallery in Johannesburg attempts to fill some of the holes in African art history. Called Groot Gat, the exhibit showcases works by Lady Skollie inspired by the Bushmen paintings that were relegated to obscurity under colonial rule. The visual feast is at once a story of ‘selected truths and curated lies’ and a vibrant expression of a culture. The exhibition unfolds around Boesmansgat, a legendary freshwater cave in the Northern Cape previously used as a fishing hole by indigenous peoples. The pieces in the exhibition, which include the triptych ‘Rub Us Out’ and ‘Ek is ’n Watermeid III’, were heavily influenced by the Bushman artist Coex’ae Qgam, also known as Dada, whose paintings were a powerful expression of her people’s connection to the land, their spiritual beliefs and their daily lives. Groot Gat imagines Dada as a deity who paints beautiful cave paintings to draw in souls before ‘snatching them off the face of the earth’.