Entitled Identity, it's a collection made up entirely of self-portraits that explore the relationship between the inner self and incarceration. Many inmates regard drawing a representation of themselves as a way to validate their existence and find the process to be therapeutic.
There is no pressure to create a masterpiece, although there is a desire to excel. In a quiet, safe space, conducive to introspection and devoid of negativity, they are able to transpose, with tremendous effort and perseverance, a reflection of themselves, their very real interpretations of what lies within, and seeing the result elicits a deep emotional response.
Observing the group at art.it.is when they stood before their framed works, Kruger says: "Some weep when seeing their framed art presented in a public space for the first time. To them, art has enabled them to regain their humanity. they feel respected as citizens and as people."
Kruger's positive approach and the consistent support received from Bertie Fourie, the prison's section head for sport, recreation and arts and culture, fuels dedication and a pursuit of excellence.
Kruger is intent on developing talent and achieving high standards so that once back in society, Joseph Buys and his contemporaries can make a living out of their art. A career as a professional artist remains one of the few that is not tainted by a rap sheet.
It has been proved time and again that prisoners who participate in any of the art genres have better self-esteem, are more motivated, disciplined and less prone to violent behaviour.
Concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, in his book The Art of Manliness, mentions how crucial it is for inmates to have a sense of purpose when trying to survive a "naked existence". For someone who is incarcerated for years on end, having a creative outlet in grim circumstances offers this and provides a goal that in turn gives hope.
When discussing the sketches he made on Robben Island, Nelson Mandela, who spent his last prison years at the Drakenstein Correctional Services prison when it was still known as Victor Verster, said: "I have attempted to colour the island sketches in ways that reflect the positive light in which I view it. Even the most fantastic dreams can be achieved if we are prepared to endure life's challenges."
'Identity' can be seen at art.it.is, 76 Albert Road, Salt River, Cape Town, until April 30.