Bittercomix, Claudette Schreuders and Boogie Lights at the AVA
by Paul Edmunds
It's an old trick - if you want people to look at your work longer, give them something to read. Comic artists, of course, know this better than anyone and seldom do anything else. The Bittercomix folk do comics better than most, producing some damn fine images at the same time.
Their second major exhibition at the AVA contains a collection of original artwork, black-and-white and colour silk-screens, as well as glass paintings by co-founder Conrad Botes. Completed by Anton and Mark Kannemeyer, the trio will amuse, delight, disgust and confuse with their usual collection of twisted Afrikaners, guilt and, erm, sex.
The beautiful opaque colours of the silk-screens stand in stark contrast to the horrors they depict. Fornicating farm boys and -girls who can't stop thinking about the Boland, are presented alongside monsters, dilettantes and confessional self-portraits. Aside from the portraits of fictional and historical citizens, there's even one complete strip My Father's Rifle translated into French. My own favourite is Botes' colour silkscreen of a Godzilla-type creature atop the Voortrekker Monument, fresh turd under his tail, fists in the air in a saurian power salute, declaring "Fokkof laaities!"
Upstairs there's the merchandise. Well, not quite, because this time it's Capetonian sculptor Brett Murray who has collaborated with Botes on a new series of the ever-popular Boogie Lights. Botes' trademark twisted boerseuns, babes and blokes are given the Murray wall-lamp treatment to irresistible ends. My favourites: Heeya! and Sheeya! See for yourself and remember, as the two once said, "Kontant is koning".
Downstairs in the Long Gallery, Claudette Schreuders provides welcome relief (or a misleading introduction perhaps, since it's her work you'll encounter first) with her drawings etchings, silk-screens and lithos. In works like Love Story Schreuders utilises her uncanny knack for narrative that is usually contained in singular or grouped objects. This and The Third Person are both comic strips she has recently produced for inclusion in a Bittercomix issue.
Eminently more powerful is the watercolour of the same title, showing a young girl accompanied or haunted by a shadow that hangs just behind her, just a little to the side. Also on view are pages from the artists' sketchbook, which reveal her gift for shape, line, colour and pattern.
Opening: Monday October 14, 6pm
Closing: November 2
Association for Visual Arts, 35 Church Street, Cape Town
Tel: (021) 424 7436
Fax: (021) 423 2637
Hours: Mon - Fri 10 a.m - 5 p.m, Sat 10 a.m - 1 p.m