Pietà 11 1998
Witness (detail) 1998
Here XVII 1995
Kevin Brand's work is distinguished by his use of non-traditional sculptural materials to make strong but increasingly nuanced comments on aspects of South African social history and life. His particular interest is to make work that is accessible to the larger community, and locate it in a public arena.
"Through my work, I am trying to understand why I exist. It's about shedding baggage, working through issues to find out what makes you want to live."
Most recent projects:
1. For the Dakar Biennale (see news), Brand made a second version of a work made originally for the 'Faultlines' exhibition at the Cape Town Castle in July 1997, based on the world-famous photograph of the first victim of the Soweto uprisings of 1976, Hector Peterson. In the Dakar rendition, Brand extended the first image by adding a long shadow to the group.
2. For a piece on the launch exhibition at Cape Town's new Idasa Gallery, Brand worked two-dimensionally for the first time. Taking inspiration from the acoustic tiles lining the Visitors' Block on Robben Island, where Brand was one of the nine artists who installed pieces in the historic prison on the show 'Thirty Minutes' in 1997, Brand decided to use the tiles as a painting surface. To Brand, the tiles, used to deaden noise, allude to the country's damaged past, to interrogation spaces. The title of the new piece is Witness - and refers to the artist's feelings about the state of the country. "I consciously used as a reference a photograph of a farm worker in the Bokkeveld, and the child is my daughter. They are quite sceptical about the way things are - and are looking straight at the viewer, to set up a dialogue." Brand's witnesses are women, as he feels that the nurturing aspect of the feminine holds hope for the future. A simple drawing technique of drawing dot to dot is utilised, using shellac and pigment in muted tones.
And before that:
Last year, Brand was the initiator of a large-scale outdoor sculpture project which took place in Cape Town's District Six (ArtThrob No. 3), where Brand lived as a child, involving more than 80 artists and opening with a day of music and festivities. A catalogue of the event is in preparation.
Next year, Brand will be one of 10 South African artists exhibiting at the Van Reekum Museum of Modern Art in Apeldoorn, Holland.
Born in Cape Town in 1953, and graduating from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 1981, Brand was one of the participating artists on 'Faultlines' at the Cape Town Castle in 1996, and on 'Scurvy' in 1995. On the second Johannesburg Biennale, Brand took part in the highly rated fringe show, 'Smokkel'. In 1995, he was joint winner with Jane Alexander of the FNB Vita Art Now Award for the best exhibition in Johannesburg in the previous year for his installation Here XVII at the Newtown Galleries. Brand works in the Industrial Design Department at the Cape Technikon. Public collections include the South African National Gallery in Cape Town.