As with many other aspects of the South African
culture, South African art has evolved over the years, blending Western and European influences with its own traditional style.
Today, many art forms are popular in South Africa. The traditional art forms of beadwork, pottery, basketry and carving are returning
to the art scene. Paintings and sculptures are often seen. As well, in the last few decades, conceptual art has been a big
hit in South Africa. And as no one can forget, the San rock art is always present.
Traditional Art Forms
The traditional South African art forms, what many today would refer to as crafts, are still
very popular in the South African culture. Craft markets and craft shops are fairly common. The main areas of traditional
South African crafts are beadwork, pottery, basketry and carving. South African beadwork and pottery can often be recognized
by its distinct colors and patterns.
Another form of traditional South African art is house painting. This is an age old Ndebele
traditional that dates way back. The South Africans consider it an art to decorate and paint the outside of
Since the beginning of the 1990's, conceptual art has become more and more
popular in South Africa. Artists have taken art to a new level, and begun to use concepts to get their message across. Jeremy
Wafer has used photography, earth and fibreglass structures to create works that deal with issues such as borders and boundries.
Sue Williamson has created installations that speak of memory and history using materials she has found and reworked.
Jo Radcliff uses photography to investigate person and famial memory, death, decay and love.
Butcher Boys by Jane Alexander
From Can't Forget, Can't Remember, an interactive video projection by Sue Williamson
Some of the most well-known South African art was created by the San centuries
ago. The San lived in South Africa from the Stone Age until the nineteenth century. They left behind some of the finest examples
of rock art in the world. These examples are viewed by thousands of visiting tourists every year.
For anyone who is not sure exactly what rock art is, it is simply drawings that have been drawn on
rock. Many of the San rock art was drawn on cliffs around South Africa.