The Cecilia Forest Series celebrates freedom on a post-apartheid society, where any individual may live free from harasment, and free from the traumas of petty-apartheid's sting. Under the previous regime, people of colour were prohibited from accessing anything that was deemed for white use only.
Muchatuta's paint is thick, fast, raw and impatient. The works create a static feeling, more like a painting from a blurred photograph and the distance between the viewer and the scene is varied in each piece, creating a lack of formality and random sense of sequence. Muchatuta nods at European traditions but not in a classical sense. There is an element of detachment at play here and in this vein the palette is almost muddy, anti-lyrical: a grunge alternative to some of his other work. The paint application mounts up and grows darker, like a memory of the ‘real forest’ and Muchatuta seems reluctant to bathe each stilted scene in faithful tones.
This series features very heavy impasto, while the colour use betrays a muted atmosphere. The application encourages light to reflect in a particular shimmer, with the artist influencing the play of light on the painting. All of this dramatises this magical world of dappled light, deep shadows – you can look long and hard, stepping forward and back from the wall, before the expressive energies of the stong, up-close brushstrokes resolving themselves into something fleshy and living. The subjects are sensual and seemingly carefree. Muchatuta uses such heavy impasto that some of his paintings become almost three-dimensional
RONALD MUCHATUTA / Cecilia Forest, Foliage
Petty Apartheid was the range of laws implemented by the National Party that placed detailed restrictions on the behaviour of the different races in the country.
While Grand Apartheid was responsible for demarcating separate Homelands within South Africa, Petty Apartheid began with the 1949 Prohibition of Mixed Marriages. This was followed by 1950's Immorality Amendment, which outlawed "unlawful racial intercourse" or "any immoral or indecent act" between the races.
While Colored and Indian groups had access to some privileges, the sharpest distinction was between Black and White. The 1953 Separate Amenities Act of 1953 stated that separate facilities no longer had to be "substantially equal."
The result: Black-only bus stops serviced inferior Black-only buses. Black-only ambulances stopped at inferior Black-only hospitals. Black-only education was provided at inferior Black-only schools and universities. Beaches, bridges, swimming pools, washrooms, cinemas, benches, parks and even burial grounds were all segregated.
There were a handful of places where segregation didn't occur, notably drug-dealing nightclubs and churches. Though the lack of segregation in churches was not for want of trying. Blacks could not attend White churches under the 1957 Churches Native Laws Amendment Act, but the law was largely unenforced.
South African President P.W. Botha began to tear down Petty Apartheid in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But while the outward — and literal — signs of Apartheid started to be removed under Botha, the level of brutality against Blacks increased. Following the end of the Apartheid system in 1994, Botha was found responsible for gross violations of human rights under the nation's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He maintained he had no regrets.
"I apologise in my capacity as leader of the NP to the millions who suffered wrenching disruption of forced removals; who suffered the shame of being arrested for pass law offences; who over the decades suffered the indignities and humiliation of racial discrimination."
F. W. DE KLERK, 1997