Brett Murray named Young Artist for 2002
by Sue Williamson
Once described by critic Brenda Atkinson as "the dark prince of pop", Cape Town artist Brett Murray was this week announced to be the Standard Bank Young Artist for 2002 at a ceremony held at the Liberty Theatre in Sandton.
Murray is known for his subversive take on contemporary culture. His strongly iconic pieces draw on a variety of sources to make his statement. For instance, his public sculpture Africa, situated in downtown Cape Town, draws from a tourist art figure being subsumed by numbers of heads of Bart Simpson breaking through the flesh - African culture produced for a tourist market, while aspiring to American culture.
Critic Ivor Powell wrote: "There is a constant strain of self-parody in the way that Murray renders up the world in his art making, the way he populates the world of his sculptures with his own caricature ... the way he sees himself is as both a product and reflection of the realities of his society."
Murray will receive R15 000 in prize money, and R7 000 towards the cost of new work for his award exhibition opening in the Monument Gallery at the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown next July. An amount of R32 000 will be dedicated to an exhibition catalogue. The exhibition will then tour the major centres of the country.
Asked to comment on receiving the award, Murray said: "I was looking at the past winners, the art mafia - now I have become part of the art mafia. I am in greatly esteemed company from Jane Alexander to William Kentridge. It's very exciting."
New work from Murray will be on view soon at the Bell-Roberts Art Gallery. His show 'The Hero' will open on November 28 and run for four weeks.
To read about Murray, see his Artbio (Artthrob, September 1998).