Apartheid, meaning apart-ness in Afrikaans (a South African national language) was a policy of rigid racial segregation instituted by the political party called the National Party in power from 1948 until 1994.
Apartheid was built upon earlier South African laws and customs, and classified every South African as black, white, coloured (mixed race) or Asian (mainly Indians). It created segregation in housing, education, employment, public facilities and in transportation. It also limited the rights of "non-whites" to own and occupy land, and also to enter certain "white" neighbourhoods.
The government of the time justified their actions by claiming that a truly peaceful coexistence of different races was only possible if the races were kept completely separate from one another. In truth, the white government was using Apartheid as a way to control the nation's vast majority of "non-white" South Africans.
At the time of Apartheid, 75% of the country's population was black, 13% white, 9% coloured and 3% Asian.
One of the leading parties opposed to Apartheid was the African National Congress. Between 1976 and 1994 large numbers of mainly black people protested against Apartheid by staging boycotts, demonstrations and strikes. Violence often broke out and thousands were killed.
Apartheid broke down as a response to domestic and international pressure during the 70s and 80s. It is this Apartheid which caused the Resistance Art of SA to form. The art was in protest against the policies of Apartheid.