Art & Design in South Africa Today

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Mesuli Mamba, “Rolfe’s Environment”

Mesuli Mamba is prison warden and collage artist in Swaziland, South Africa.  That’s where he grew up.  Mamba first learned about art from his father’s collection of Reader’s Digest —  which he still mines for collage materials, along with drawings,  poetry texts,  and glossy magazines (which can be hard to  get).

The 34-year-old says: ” “Being a prison warden is tough. Real tough. But once you get used to it, you get to know the people in your community—we’re supposed to call them inmates but they’re just my machita [guys]. They don’t know about my collages yet.”

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Photo Collage: Miguel Rio Branco

Miguel Rio Branco installation (Photo: Pedro Motta)

It’s been called another Versailles.   Or the Disneyland of the future.   It’s Inhotim——-a huge art complex and botanical park in southeastern Brazil.   Privately owned, it’s got international art star installations and 12,000 varieties of palm trees.    Miguel Rio Branco  has his own pavilion there.

Rio Branco is a Brazilian photographer whose work, though stunning, is usually too seamy for me.   Among his favorite subjects are prostitutes —————not exactly Disney.  He describes the essence of his work this way:  “… being in paradise, yet having something absolutely terrible taking place.”

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Installation Collage: CandyCoated

Children's costume,  "Martha Washington,"  Early 20th c.,

Children’s costume,
“Martha Washington,”
Early 20th c.,

Say you’re planning a show of antique children’s costumes.   You know, Little Red Riding Hood.  Martha Washington. A  Maltese water carrier.  But you want to jazz it up a little———–after all, this is 2013.  Who you gonna call?

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Cousins Kissing: Shoes and other creatures

HB 11

Anna-Wili Highfield, Hummingbird (2013)

I like putting things together that you wouldn’t think of putting together, which is why I’m a collage artist.

Chloe, 2008 collection

So here’s a new series in which I’ll pair two artist/creators whose work, though unrelated, is similar————like, say, Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and Tony Bennett singing “The Lady Is a Tramp” with Lady Gaga as the Lady.

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Banksy & Matisse: Nothing but Masterpieces

I think of Banksy as the Zorro of the art world.   Masked?  Nobody knows his real identity–reportedly, not even his parents, who think he’s a high-end decorator.

After dark, he might turn up anywhere. He dazzles with his swordplay–okay, make that spray paint play. Then he vanishes into the night.

His art leans heavily on stencilled figures and silhouettes, gritty content, in-your-face messages.  EVen if some of it later is sold for six figures.  Still, this is illegal street art.

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Architecture & Paste

Finalist Richard Meier & Partners Architects/OLIN

Richard Meier & Partners, U.S. Embassy in London

Architecture is inevitably collage. A building is “pasted” into an existing mix—a streetscape in the city or natural landscape in the country.  The architect considers how the new “piece” will fit the rest of the composition.  So it’s not surprising that lots of architects have made collages.

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Collage Materials: Jim Hodges

A close-up of Jim Hodges’ ‘Every Touch’, a breathtaking curtain of hundreds of artificial flowers meticulously sewn together.on view in “Secret Garden”, Perelman Building

Jim Hodges, “Every Touch,” (detail) 1995

Jim Hodges does a lot with flowers.  Also mirrors, granite, scarves, and, oh yeah, paper.  The results are magical and exhilarating. Also fragile and sorrowful. In many of his works, a collage aesthetic is at play.

'Untitled' (2000) by Jim Hodges

Jim Hodges, Untitled, 2000. Acrylic on newspaper, 56 x 68.6 cm. Courtesy the artist.
Artlicks via Another Mag.

Paper was the first material that fascinated him. He talked about it during his 2009 exhibition Love, Etc. at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in an interview with Christophe Ecoffet.  Hodges liked “the flexibility of paper, how paper can tear, and be unfolded and folded.”  In one work, he collaged hearts cut from painted newspaper.

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