This is sad. Both sides are taking stands that will be hard to back down from. This also sounds a lot like the politically correct crap espoused here in the US.
Riason Naidoo knows how to ruffle feathers. His decision to remove paintings by the likes of Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds that had hung in South Africa’s National Gallery for 63 years provoked a fierce backlash, with one magazine fuming that the museum‘s reputation had been “trashed” .
Now, in his first major interview since the row erupted, Naidoo, the first non-white director of the collection in its 139-year history, has responded to critics he regards as being part of a “largely white” art establishment in Cape Town.
Naidoo, who grew up in a township and is of Indian descent, believes the hostile reaction to the five-month show, an overview of a century of South African art,, could in part be racially motivated. “The art world in South Africa has been largely white,” he said. “Cape Town is known to be quite colonial. So apart from being a new director, I’m also the first black director in a museum where there have never been black curators.
“There is definitely resistance to change. There are a number of firsts in putting this exhibition on and there is bound to be reaction from certain conservative quarters to change.”
Naidoo, who was appointed last year, endured a withering review in the influential Art Times. He added: “The Art Times has a specific agenda, whatever that is. But I did get feedback from many elderly white women from affluent areas who come to the gallery regularly and congratulated us on the show.”
- Gallery director defends decision to swap Gainsborough for African works (guardian.co.uk)
- National Portrait Gallery shines light on forgotten artist Thomas Lawrence (guardian.co.uk)