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​​Joburg 'glitters like a dressed-up prostitute'​
images (4).jpgJohannesburg​ is like "a prostitute who dresses up every evening", becoming something glamorous, glittering and glowing with lights. This is how the city appears to artist David Koloane, who lives on the edge of the city's nightlife, Hillbrow.

"The city is just ordinary during the day, but at night you can't recognise her, everything glows, even the prostitutes," he says.

Koloane, 65, was born in Alexandra but grew up in Soweto. He now has a studio at the Bag Factory Studios in Fordsburg, and lives near Pieter Roos Park on the edge of Hillbrow, so he knows the city well.

"That neon glitter of night-time Johannesburg has a mesmerising effect, like the moon," he adds, sitting at his studio desk with a large painting of the inner city entitled The Moon and the City behind him on the wall.

As a young child he was brought into the city from Alexandra, a "dark, gloomy place", and in contrast the city was "like a wonderland", a "jewel shining at night". It's clear that the moon's effect still has a hold on him 60 years later.

His work has been exhibited around the world, and his art is on permanent display in galleries and private collections locally and internationally. He's been painting for the past three decades and describes his style as "urban expression". He has captured aspects of Johannesburg and its people in his work.

Koloane loves music and has actively patronised jazz around the city, particularly The Pelican nightclub in Soweto.  He still goes to jazz concerts in the city. He also enjoys soccer, which he mostly watches on TV these days.

He's a late starter in art - when he left school he was firstly an interpreter, then a messenger, then a stores clerk in an engineering company. He was always interested in drawing, and as a young man bumped into artists and teachers Bill Ainslee and Louis Maqhubela, the former influencing him still today although he's now dead, the latter giving him insight and an introduction to the world of art that he might not have had access to otherwise, growing up in a township.

He's actively given back to the art community - he's taught at the now-closed Johannesburg Art Foundation, and community art project Fuba, in Newtown.

And he's been involved in nurturing black artists in the city, co-founding several projects, the most significant of which is the Bag Factory, where 15 artists rent studio space and three studios are available for residency artists from around the world. Artists have come from Sao Paulo, Kinshasa, Zurich and Montreal to Bag Factory that now have an international reputation. At present Nigerian Olu Amoda and Senegalise Birame Ndiaye are exhibiting their works at the studios.

He's been on the board of the National Arts Council since 1997. He sees it as an opportunity to understand how arts funding works so that he can influence how various projects can be funded.

Art still gives him his major focus: "Art stabilises me in whatever I do. I am still learning. I still surprise myself. For me art is the essence of creative expression. I want to be in a position of not knowing rather than knowing - to have a burning curiosity."

Koloane is excited about the new memorials in Johannesburg that reflect everyone's history, like the Hector Pieterson Memorial, the Apartheid Museum, and the new Constitutional Court.

He's spent time overseas, studying in London and giving lectures overseas and around South Africa. But Joburg is his home and always will be.

"I want to live here all my life," he says with a smile.

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