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Cui Ning is a remarkable man and his paintings are a triumph of pure technical skill, showcasing his spirit and determination ...

Cui Ning comes from Nan King near Shanghai in China and studying art in South Africa had been his childhood dream. He applied to a number of South African universities and Rhodes was the quickest to respond. Fellow Rhodes students recall when he arrived he could speak no English, but in his final year he produced a 125 page Masters thesis written in English.

Durings Ning's study at Rhodes he had completed 100 oil paintings and over 500 sketches in South Africa which earned him wide critical acclaim from the art and media circles. He also attracted extensive coverage and recognition for winning the 1995 Rhodes University Rowny Prize and received high praise for his sketches for Nelson Mandela's visit to Grahamstown; grabbing serveral local newspaper headlines for his outstanding Oil paintings.

It was while he was at Rhodes after reading Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom and engaging in various discussions that Cui Ning got inspired to begin working on the 16-piece, 20 metre-wide epic painting of the events surrounding the Rivonia Trial ....

THE RIVONIA TRIAL - A tribute to the 10th Year Anniversary of the abolishment of racial discrimination

Cui Ning's work did not escape the attention and interest of the South African political and government leaders at the time, earning him the unqualified support of the then Minister of Arts, Culture & Technology, Dr Ben Ngubane.

Dr Ben Ngubane, after receiving the proposal from Ning to do an Oil Painting of the Rivonia Trial, responded : "Your proposed work on the Rivonia Trial could make a significant contribution to commemorating the episodes of our country's history and honouring many people of integrity and vision who were involved in our country's struggle and freedom".

Ning remained focused on the work for nearly three years, with no job and no guaranteed income. He was solely dependant on selling landscape paintings to tourists, doing portraiture at shopping centres and flea-markets to feed himself, import the canvas from England and finance his research and paints.

He was however encouraged by the continuous support from amongst others, the Sisulu family, who invited him to create the portrait of Mr Walter Sisulu for his funeral in Soweto on May 2003, including the attendance of the subsequent unveiling of his tombstone in December the same year.

It was also a great honour for him to be invited by the President of the Republic of South Africa to the inauguration ceremony of the third democratically elected President of the South Africa and the 10th Anniversary Celebration at the Union Buildings on the 27th of april 2004.

When Cui Ning finished the Rivonia Trial painting he saw it as a fitting tribute to the 10th year anniversary of the abolishment of racial discrimination. But, more importantly, the work serves as a token of remembrance and victory for all the HEROES in the fight for democracy, with particular emphasis on and reference to former President Nelson Mandela, the late Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the Rivonia Trial.

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