The rough underground location for Core, a mixed-media exhibition at the Museum Gallery in Salt River, perfectly encapsulated the raw indictment of capitalism, consumerism and the wars that drive it. Featuring the work of Cape Town artists Linsey Levendall, Anwar Davids, Leigh Cupido, Nardstar* and Rayaan Cassiem at first glance their work seems a mere shock tactic; but take a harder look and you will discover an exquisite attention to detail that can keep you gazing at each work for hours. It is inspiring to see that there are people trying to convey an important message and that art is still used as a medium to convey these messages, yet again cementing the fact that art has function.
My favourite piece was Smile by Rayaan Cassiem: a grim visual of a nailed face with a Giger-inspired monster crawling through its nose and out its eye socket. Yet the face’s unexpected grin subverts the dourness, turning it into a surprisingly positive piece. Another great work by Cassiem is War Is Terrorism: a clear exposition that does not try to confuse or be pretentious, but blatantly puts it message forward with the inspired yet subtle touch of the soldier and policeman as puppets.
Anwar David’s Libera Animo is a searing dig at corporate drones and with his intricately detailed work in black ink pen this is one of those works previously mentioned that you can stare at endlessly and discover new insights with every detail.
Using an interesting mix of materials Linsey Levendall’s work is wrought out in thought-provoking detail and evocative of surrealist work. Nardstar’s bold use of colour is reminiscent of 1950s pop art, yet delivered with greater depth and tone. Leigh Cupido has a twisted and sometimes darkly playful approach that beckons you nearer and begs a closer look. In addition to the common themes, there is a prevalence of body parts overall, as well as the traditional death symbol of the skull seen in a vast number of the works.
What took me quite by surprise was the fact that people were allowed to take photos of the art and I cannot make up my mind as to how I felt about this. We’re not allowed to go into the cinema and record the movie we’re watching, so why should we be able to take photos of work exhibited in a gallery? On the other hand, knowing that people went out and posted it on every social media platform they could access and shared it amongst their friends is quite a heartening feeling as it means that the work and the message is shared and given a wider audience and quite possibly reaching people it may not have reached otherwise. Bearing in mind that the invitation to the event stipulated “the advent and rise of the internet as the voice of the people,” this doesn’t seem quite so wrong anymore. At the same time, the internet is an orgy of advertising and using it as a platform seems to pervert what the art is trying to say. The whole thing creates a rather bizarre and never-ending paradox.
The turnout was fantastic. Wine and words flowed and the music kept the vibe going, as people mingled and admired the work on display. The crowd, however, was not particularly diverse and herein lies the challenge: bringing the work to people who would not normally attend these events, because at the moment they are merely preaching to the converted. In light of this realities such as shock tactic, instant uploads to the internet and defaced paintings seem like the only way to draw the attention of the people who should be noticing.
Photography by David from Anothershooting Photography