Minister Paul Mashatile at Picasso and Africa Exhibition, Standard Bank Centre in Johannesburg

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04 Jul 2012

Mr Derek Cooper
Your Excellency, Ambassador Jean Felix-Paganon
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am honoured to be part of this historic and auspicious occasion, announcing the “Picasso and Africa” Exhibition.

In 1994 South Africa signed a cultural agreement with France in order to form a partnership on various cultural projects including the training of young professionals as heritage practitioners and museum curators, as well as exchange of knowledge and expertise in design, music and film.

The Picasso and Africa exhibition is a major cultural coup for South Africa - one of the most significant international exhibitions to visit our country.

Picasso and Africa brings the work of one of the most renowned 20th century artists within the reach of South Africans who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to experience his creativity first hand.

The initiative gives substance to the Department of Arts and Culture’s commitment to optimise international co-operation and exchange.

This partnership between our two countries has over the past decade been strengthened through artistic exchanges, and this exhibition will add further impetus to the partnership. We also plan to sign a Programme of Cultural Cooperation between South Africa and France during the “Picasso and Africa” Exhibition in 2006.

We applaud the respective institutions responsible for securing the rights to bring Pablo Picasso’s works to South Africa - the result of a long-standing partnership between Standard Bank, the French Embassy and the French Institute of South Africa and the Iziko South African National Gallery, resulting in a truly national exchange between the two countries.

This transaction highlights the importance of public-private partnerships, which are pertinent to the economic, political and social development of our country.

What is of major significance to us and the rest of the continent is the juxtaposition of artworks by Picasso and works from Africa, reflecting the impact that African art has had on important movements in the history of modern art, and specifically on such a great artist as Pablo Picasso.

Picasso and Africa offers an opportunity to explore the complex relationship between Africa and the rest of the world. It could also serve to cast an even clearer light on the Art History of our own country.

I understand that this exhibition will be generous in its proportions, and we know that the Standard Bank Gallery and the Iziko South African National Gallery have the expertise, the professional infrastructure and the facilities to do this exhibition justice.

I am pleased to inform you that in three week’s time South Africa’s Ambassador to France, Ambassador Ms Sibanda-Thusi, will be hosting a similar reception at her residence in Paris to announce the exhibition to the French media.

On behalf of the South African government I would like to commend the partners involved in this most ambitious project – we look forward to the biggest international art event to be hosted in our country in 2006 and trust that it will assist us expand and extend the levels of collaboration, not only between France and South Africa, but also between us and our other potential partners.

Thank you.