Collector’s Focus V

Courage is as Contagious as Fear:
Selected works from the Hoosein Mahomed Collection

Gallery 9


8 February 2020 – 21 April 2020

Courage is as Contagious as Fear: Selected Works from the Hoosein Mahomed Collection is part of Norval Foundation’s ongoing Collector’s Focus series of exhibitions and talks highlighting the divergent ways collections of visual art and design are assembled, managed, understood and engaged with by audiences. Initiated by the Foundation’s Founding CEO, Elana Brundyn, this series draws upon a broad range of local, national and international collections, owned by private individuals, corporate entities and public institutions, to consider the impact of these collections on the practice of collecting and, more broadly, in shaping culture.

Courage is as Contagious as Fear presents a selection of works from the collection of entrepreneur and attorney Hoosein Mahomed. Beginning with his first acquisition in 2007, Mahomed has established himself as a collector by acquiring works by prominent mid-career and established contemporary South African artists, as well as supporting younger artists at the beginning of their careers. Mahomed finds the acquisition process to be an acutely personal exercise, noting, “I think it’s not so much about collecting objects. It’s really about collecting memories. And it starts as one delves very deeply within the individual self, in order to begin the process of relearning and unlearning oneself through images”.

Mahomed’s collection is deeply connected to his personal experiences of growing up in a divided South Africa and the changing ways that identity politics have been investigated in the visual arts. A distinct shift has taken place since the mid-2010s, with a dissatisfaction and challenge to the status quo being led by younger South Africans, and Mahomed’s collection is reflective of this shift. He uses collecting as a process of exploring the multiplicity of individual as well as collective experience. This selection, made with input from the collector, highlights artworks that challenge society’s norms around sexual identity, queer culture, the church and state, race, class, moral expectations, and the osmosis of power and oppression. Mahomed has been acquiring works by artists who challenge preconceived or assumed conceptions of identity, as a celebration of their existence. From matrimony to bondage, fear to courage, celebration to assimilation, we are provided with a glimpse into the self-understanding of a mutable – but nonetheless triumphant – South African experience.

Courage is as Contagious as Fear is curated by Daniel Rautenbach and runs from 8 February 2020 to 21 April 2020 in Gallery 9. Accompanying the exhibition will be a musical performance in response to the exhibition, composed by Bongani Ndodana-Breen, whose artistic practice resonates with the concerns in this exhibition. The title is taken from Susan Sontag’s Óscar Romero Award Keynote Address, ‘On Courage and Resistance’, which took place at the Rothko Chapel (Houston, USA) on March 30th, 2003. Norval Foundation would like to thank Hoosein Mahomed for generously agreeing to participate in this exhibition and the Norval family for their ongoing support.

Artists featured: Jody Brand, Reshma Chhiba, Kudzanai Chiurai, Steven Cohen, David Goldblatt, Donna Kukama, Moshekwa Langa, Gerald Machona, Turiya Magadlela, Esther Mahlangu, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Asemahle Ntlonti, Athi-Patra Ruga, Cinga Samson, Berni Searle, Johannes Segogela and Brett Seiler.



Norval Foundation’s Collector’s Focus is a series of exhibitions and talks that highlight the role of collectors of visual art and design in shaping culture. It was established by Elana Brundyn, CEO of Norval Foundation, to recognise the unique contributions that collectors play in the preservation and evolution of culture. Norval Foundation continues to work with a broad range of local, national and international collections, owned by private individuals and corporate organisations, to consider their impact on knowledge and research in the arts. In line with Norval Foundation’s mission, the objects selected for display from these collections will predominantly be from the 20th and 21st centuries, and will be presented within dynamic exhibitions which highlight the collector’s or organisation’s particular viewpoint on visual art and design. Special attention will be paid to the context of collecting and how it may have informed what objects were acquired. Both internal and external curators are invited to work with a collection that Brundyn identifies in consultation with that curator. Talks with collectors, artists, designers, curators, academics and cultural practitioners will provide a range of perspectives on the role of the collector within society.

While a few large scale collections are publicly accessible, both locally and globally, many other high quality collections are only on view in private residences, corporate offices or are simply in storage. This series of exhibitions provides a platform where artworks in these collections can be viewed, discussed and appreciated, honouring the contributions that collectors have made in supporting and promoting artists and designers, and is an opportunity to share with the public the vital role that collectors play.

More broadly, the process of collecting is perhaps a fundamental aspect of human nature even as it differs between cultures, periods and individuals. As tastes, times, and circumstances change, collecting habits evolve and adapt. Personal and unique to their individual owners, visual art and design collections are a way in which important milestones and memories can be crystallised into a tangible and personal archive or diary. At times, collecting may reflect admiration for a particular style, artist, designer or period in history.

Central to this programme is an understanding that art collecting is not necessarily a privilege reserved for a select few. Instead, from humble beginnings and in unlikely places, a passion for art can lead to a lifetime of collecting. According to Hilla von Rebay,

The importance of the collection does not lie in its valuable pictures alone, for anyone with great wealth may acquire the most famous ones. The real value of a collection lies in its organic growth and selection, expressing the personality of the collector.

Hilla von Rebay, artist and inaugural Director of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA)


Exhibition Curator:   Daniel Rautenbach

Curatorial and Public Programme Coordinator: Vicky Lekone

Curatorial and Collections Assistant: Talia Naicker

Technical Assistant: Mervyn van Rooyen

Marketing and Communications Coordinator: Luke de Kock

Education Coordinator: Lindsay Hendricks

Graphic Designer: Daniel Rautenbach

Events Coordinator: Talitha Cronje

Patrons Coordinator: Julia Buchanan

Retail Product Coordinator: Vuyolwethu Mbete

and Norval Foundation’s entire team