Africa by Brett Murray
February 14, 2009
Brett Murray (born in 1961) is a South African artist mostly known for his steel and mixed media wall sculptures. He was born in Pretoria, South Africa. Murray has a master's degree in fine art from the Michaelis School of Fine Art.
Referred to by critic Brenda Atkinson as "the dark prince of South African pop (art)", Murray is one of the country's most popular artists, often using easily recognisable media images with the addition of a subversive and bitterly funny twist.
Murray's work addresses the wars of the cultures, the clash between Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism, the old and the new South Africas. "With my work I hope to critically entertain. Through satirical and tragic reflections on South Africa, I hope to shift people's perspectives and change people's minds, indulgent, arrogant and pretentious as this might sound," he says.
Murray won the R30 000 competition for a public sculpture to be placed in St George's mall in downtown Cape Town. Combining a small carved figure brought back from West Africa with wildly erupting heads of Bart Simpson, Murray entitled his piece Africa.
Murray explains, simply and accessibly, that the work comments on the hybrid and parallel cultures which are characteristic of contemporary life in South Africa. The work deals also with the myths that inform these cultures, from ancient African traditions to the Western myths of deepest, darkest Africa to present day cartoon icons and the strange mix of fantasy and reality that arise therefrom. Declaimers lament its Amerocentricism or its unfortunate yellow protuberances and its rootedness in a very particular era. It certainly seems a concise and appropriate idea which Murray will execute, in bronze, with his customary integrity.