Tracy Payne as didi, graffiti artist

Payne as herself

Detail of a painting
from the icy zone of
the installation 'hush ... hush'

'hush ... hush' installation


Tracy Payne
(March, 1998)

Modus operandi:

Using paint, mixed media and performance, Tracy Payne works not only as herself as an artist but also through alter egos to confront her own dark side and the shadowed zones of close relationships. Deliberately brash, kitschy, and in your face, Payne utilises the lurid modes of pulp illustration to force attention.

Artist's statement:

'My work is clearly about abuse ... but also about love. I think of the artist as a channel for the collective unconscious. I take something that is beautiful and pure and I violate that surface. I am investigating taboos, the unspeakable.'

Most recent project:

This month, Payne turned her living/studio space at 73 Rose Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town into an art environment, and invited the public to visit '"hush ... hush" - a love story'. This space was divided into three 'temperature zones' - icy, hot and earthy, which loosely corresponded to three different kinds of relationship.

In the icy zone, a centrefold-type image of a woman painted on the wall in frozen blue tones had been attacked. Glass shards littered the floor. A pale silken gown hung nearby. In the red zone, the colour of violence, were damaged childhood toys, family photographs, a school desk, burnt objects in plastic bags. Faces in paintings were scrawled over or burnt.

The earthy zone, with reddish-brown tones, symbolised the phoenix rising, or healing.

Graffiti by didi

Over the past two years:

As didi, through a need to connect fast with a broad audience, Tracy Payne became a graffiti artist, using public spaces to leave messages such as 'Shshshsh ... he told me not to tell ...' or 'Where there's smoke, there's fire". As polly, Payne put on a long wig, extravagant make-up, dressed herself in the kind of provocative and sexy clothing the artist does not normally wear , and went out on the town to experience the kind of responses from men and women that this kind of appearance seems to provoke ...

Lemon 1994
Pastel on paper and cement
110 x 80 cm



Tracy Payne lives and works in Cape Town

Selected Exhibitions

1997 'Art Greetings' - Hanel Gallery, Cape Town

1996 'Cognisance: Ingqwalasela: Herkenning' - S.A. Association of Arts, Cape Town

1995 'Gay Rights Rewrites' - touring exhibition

1994 Volkskas Atelier Exhibition - Johannesburg

Contact address: 73 Rose Street, Cape Town 8001. Phone: (021) 24-6280

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