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The Artistic Failings Of Hail To The Thief II

21 May 2012, 09:26
A look at Brett Murray's biographical details on the "Who's Who In SA" suggests that he get some sort of recognition, award or celebratory exhibition roughly once every ten years. Going on the artistic merit and lack of any sort of statement made by his latest exhibition, that strikes me as being surprisingly generous.

Hail To The Thief II comprises of some incredibly bland, tired concepts, interesting only in the fact that the works lack any significant creative or artistic merit. This takes some doing, for you would have thought that just by accident even one of the works would have something that takes your attention. Nothing on display here looks any better than you would expect from rejected entries for a photoshop contest on the internet.

The tragedy is the lost opportunities. Forward Comrades, for instance, seems to be some sort of comment about a certain Julius Malema, looking at the adjusted Johnnie Walker logo on it. Wasn't it rather the actual President, rather than The Man Who Would Be King, involved in a court case relating to someone spilling whisky on him? Satirical comment in art only really works if you have the right target.

As for the current President, and the "highlight" of the exhibition, on to The Spear. This is your basic Banksy rip-off, via the way of the famous Warhol-styled portrait of Barack Obama. It is not very good at all, which is why you suspect an exposed penis was added later in the hope of attracting some interest to it. Well, it certainly has done that, but there's more than enough comments on the internet around that. From an artistic or statement point of view, what an utter failure. Had Zuma been presented entirely naked in a Lenin pose, then you would have had a rather impressive meeting of a famous Socialsit / Communist icon with the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes. It could have been a call or plea for sensible political opposition, a bold statement on a leader surrounded by the proverbial "yes men" or even just slightly satirical. Even then, it probably would not have been a particularly impressive work, but at least it would have had some semblance of focus or sense.

Moving on to the other works and you get a dreary mock Monopoly card and incredibly "bored when I did this" looking ANC logo with "SOLD" stamped across it.Slight offence is caused by the work called Amandla!, in which Murray seems to suggest that the sole reason people supported both the struggle and the ANC was to get alcohol, cars and money.

I neither agree nor disagree with anything Brett Murray's works say because, away from they hype, they actually say nothing at all. They lack heart, passion, conviction and intent, seemingly produced with a rather bored sense of "this will do". With numerous people curious about The Speak apparently flocking to the gallery at present, one can only hope that the gallery has had the decency to display some actual art too for people to admire.


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