CONTOUR BOTTLE ARTIST STATEMENT
As I work a lot with contour lines in most of my work, the Coca Cola contour bottle was just the perfect focus to venture into and take it to the next level of its branding. The only difference was the popular culture behind the contour bottle and what a privileged to explore the popular culture behind the bottle in line with my line signature of creating drapery in every work of art I do or inspired. I believe in something which repeats itself as part of my inspiration. The repeated pattern in each an ever subject matter really pulls my focus to the point of losing the real subject matter as the main focus but rather make it an illusion within the concept.
Contour Bottle as it is known, became part of my drapery signature as an artist. It blended well with my current concept of embracing Coca Cola since last year. The bottle became a stepping stone to accelerate my love for it and the freedom to embrace it to the next level. I think there is a difference between branding and embracing the contour bottle. My ideology is that I am embracing the bottle in a visual aspect and looking further to embrace it in different mediums of art. I feel that if the bottle can repeat its popularity through the years/century, why not embrace it though my linocut medium and painting medium. I had found it a perfect combination to work with and my lines portray movement within the subject matter and I try so much to engage the viewer in an optical manner rather than just still imagery. More drapery in my work is about tricking the eye at its best and by so doing there will be some movement between the artwork and the viewer. The more the viewer squint and bounces back and forth in trying to depict/ look at the imagery of my work, the more I feel content and applauding my accomplishment. It’s not all about hiding the concept or making it difficult to look at, it’s all about the visual practice of embracing the popular culture of the Coca Cola contour bottle.
Tony Gum, a young black woman artist from Langa in the Western Cape. Her decision to fuse a specific brand – Coca Cola – with an array of projected identities, ranging from the matriarch in traditional Xhosa costume to the West End Playboy Bunny, marks a newly minted ironic and playful take on the ubiquitous and morbid preoccupation with Identity Politics. In Tony Gum’s case it is the fusion of the African exotic, the ethnic traditional, the Afropolitan urban chic, and the iconic Bunny Girl which allows for a new framework, or prism, through which to see contemporary African art.
All importantly, it is Tony Gum’s wit, her lightness and playful irony which sets the work apart for therein we find no grim exploitation of a historical pain, no entitled supremacist black youth culture, no iconic imprisoning of black beauty, and no gratuitous play with emptiness. Rather, Tony Gum seems to have freed herself from a history of oppression – be it racial, cultural, or sexual – and, seemingly single-handedly, recreated herself as a mercurial aesthetic intelligence. Her work, remarkably sophisticated for someone so young, harks back to the genius of Moshekwa Langa, for Tony Gum, even as she plays fast-and-loose with the most ubiquitous and toxic imperial brand, is nevertheless giving us something fresh. Acknowledged by Art South Africa as a ‘Bright Young Thing’, Tony Gum seems set to make a major contribution to the booming Contemporary African Market. She is the new ‘plastiglomerate’ – the artist best able to splice the mortal with the synthetic, high art and trash, the better to capture the radio-active buzz of this art moment.
Tony Gum’s fresh and energetic imagery has attracted national attention. With gusto she is producing a new prism With which to view African contemporary art and culture. Her latest project Black Coca – Cola features an array of projected identities that she has beautifully spliced together with the global iconic Coke brand. Coke has conventionally
been famous for their pop culture branding and Gum has successfully melded the pop feel with dynamic Xhosa garb, African exotic’, ‘Afropolitan’ urban chic and the archetypal ‘Bunny Girl’. Through the power of the visual, Gum aims to show a pathway to embracing Western brands, while remaining true and proud of one’s heritage. Her inspiration and
message behind the Black Coca-Cola series, is creating an African representative for the popular beverage, giving the coke brand a uniquely African feel. Her imagery creates an intimate link between the brand and the ‘people’. Gum is proud of her African heritage, but she is equally happy to fuse with Western brands, she has the best of both worlds
text by Christopher Moller Gallery
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Here’s an excerpt:
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Opening : 19 August 2014 – Venue: Eyethu Lifestyle centre : Cnr . Machaba dr & Kinini Street Mofolo Central Soweto. – Time: 7pm to 10pm
Honoring our Masters
‘Honoring our Masters’ is an idea initiated by the visionary arts group Mashumi Art Projects and Eyethu Lifestyle Centre.
The idea is centered around the recognition of artists, born and bred, in South Africa’s foremost township known as Soweto. The honor’s exhibition is driven by the aspect that such artists should be recognized for their notable contribution in the field of Fine Arts by locale. By so doing raise awareness as well as to establish an audience for visual arts in the townships.
Mashumi Art Projects in association with Eyethu Lifestyle Centre is tasked with the mounting of an exhibition in honor of the artist’s prosperous career.
Pat Mautloa born 1952. Obtained his Diploma in Fine Art at the prestigious ELC in Rorke’s drift in KZN. He then went on to teach at FUBA (Federated Union For Black Artists) from the early 1980’s and was instrumental in the establishment known as the Thupelo Gallery during his time there. He has since participated in several local and international exhibitions alongside his contemporaries. He is now based at the Fordsburg Artists Studio popularly known as the Bag Factory.
“It is interesting for me to be part of ART WEEK JOBURG 2014. This helps to re-foster art in our communities and helps communities to know about local artists. For me it would be a mini retrospective having work dating from more or less the time I started doing art. Quite exciting that I would be showcasing in the place I lived around since I came to Mofolo in 1954.” Pat Mautloa
Master’s Exhibition vol. 1: Pat Mautloa Retrospective
The first of yet many to come. The exhibition looks at acknowledging artists from Soweto who contributed significantly to the visual arts of South Africa.
Soweto has seen many a artist reaching international acclaim and recognition in this field. However, the township’s general populace remains unaware of such feats by artists such as Bra Pat, his contemporaries and predecessors, in South African visual arts. In this light the exhibition is an open invitation to the masses to come and indulge during this display of artistic splendor that has seen Pat Mautloa becoming a widely renowned artist.
The focus of the exhibition takes a look at Pat’s collection of work’s, his most recent and dating back to his earliest work’s as a painter. The exhibition will run concurrently with the Joburg Art week commencing on Tuesday, the 19th August 2014 until 12 September 2014.
About EYETHU LIFESTYLE CENTRE
Located in the heart of Soweto, Eyethu Lifestyle Centre boasts great facilities for different types of events. The venue is located near an entertainment icon, the old Eyethu cinema.
About MASHUMI ART PROJECTS
Museum Art Projects (Pty) Ltd established in 2013. The company is committed to creating a formidable base that enshrines cross-cultural values for practitioners and awareness locally and internationally. It is tasked with carving a tangible niche through vertical and horizontal communications to firmly position Soweto, Gauteng Arts & Culture events, workshops, local/and international exhibitions, panel discussions and art residencies. Soweto, given its strategic role before/within the past apartheid political scenario needs to be interwoven with the arts and culture landscape. This is a much needed vehicle that is aimed at a succinct value addition to the proudly South African adage.