Fracture: The Coal Chronicles of South Africa

The Coal Canvas of South Africa

In the heart of South Africa’s Highveld, the coal mines unearth minerals as well as stories. These tales, rich in heritage and complexity, are vividly brought to life in Riaan van Zyl’s charcoal artwork, “Fracture.” This piece, a masterful blend of shadow and light, captures the essence of the coal mining industry that is a cornerstone of progress, the heart of electricity generation and manufacture and a subject of environmental and social discourse.

Coal mining in South Africa still accounts for 77% of the country’s energy needs. Yet, this
reliance is not without its complexities and our coal dependency presents both opportunities and challenges. The industry, employing nearly 91,000 people, is a lifeline for many, even though the shift towards sustainable energy sources is inevitable.

Van Zyl’s “Fracture” is a poignant reflection of this duality. Through his use of charcoal –
itself a product of carbon – he explores the deeper layers of the coal narrative. His artwork is a visual representation of the progress and development led by the coal industry thanks to which South Africa is today one of the most industrially developed countries in Africa.

Join us in exploring these mining narratives through our 12-month Art and Mining series.
Learn more about our local artists and stay tuned for the auction date on all 12 pieces at as part of a fund raiser.