South Africa: 30 Years On - Remembering Bill Ainslie, a Great South African Artist Who Died Too Soon

opinion

Bill Ainslie's teaching operations, latterly through the Johannesburg Art Foundation, became a model for ANC planners in exile (as well as black artists in New York) of the value of establishing centres to which a wide spectrum of people should have access.

The only public sign these days of the presence of the artist and teacher Bill Ainslie is the rare emergence of single paintings on auction. He died in a car accident 30 years ago this month, leaving behind a body of work, memories of his much-loved Art Foundation and the respect expressed by so many different people whenever his name crops up. He did not live to witness the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, nor was he there to participate in the democratic election of 1994. Dying as he did at the age of 55, there is a good reason to believe he had a great deal more to offer than all that he achieved.

Ainslie made it possible for others to feel and experience that there were better ways to live than what South Africans had endured for most of the 20th century. In exercising that influence, Ainslie was a practical visionary who spoke through his...

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