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The Slack Obsessive

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Michael Croeser is a Durban-based draughtsman known for his ambitious charcoal drawings. His works take months to create, writes Gideon Unkeless, and even longer to sell.

Abstract, not abstracted

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Bob Nickas, Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting, Phaidon, 352 pages, hardcover, ISBN-13: 9780714849331, R770. By Sean O'Toole

Athi-Patra Ruga: Moving on up

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During the run of X HOMES, a documentary theatre programme staged in Johannesburg in July, the Canadian writer, filmmaker and photographer Bruce LaBruce chatted with Cape Town experimental haute couturier and performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga about life on the move

Lisa Brice: Embracing Uncertainty

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In 2005 Lisa Brice presented her first solo exhibition of paintings in South Africa. Although trained as a painter at Cape Town's Michaelis School of Fine Art in the late 1980s, throughout much of the early post-apartheid years she worked in less traditional media, garnering rapid success. In this interview with fellow artist Godfried Donkor, Brice, who lives between London and Trinidad, discusses the dilemmas posed by early success and how the uncertainty inherent in painting drew her back to the medium.

At Smithsonian's African art museum: Rites of passage, drawn precisely

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"Paul Emmanuel: Transitions" is about invisible lines, in more ways than one.The first sense is literal. To make the five "drawings" that form the core of the show at the National Museum of African Art, the South African artist used a razor-sharp blade to incise tiny lines in the black surface of exposed photographic paper. The result is a series of engraving-like images that, on casual inspection, are indistinguishable from photographs. Look more closely, however, and you'll see evidence of the cut marks, but they're so fine that the surfaces looks slightly soft and fuzzy, like felted fabric.

Gavin Turk

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Friday, January 8th, 2010 by Sean O'TooleStaring at a braai, thinkingWe're standing around a burnt out fire laagered by 12 bits of brick and stone. We gaze at it forlornly. The fire offers no warmth. No matter, it's summer, and it isn't really a fire. It's something else, a simulation: a bronze sculpture pretending to be a fire. The work is by London artist Gavin Turk. He is currently showing a group of self-described, "highly clichéd" works at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town. The gallery has been specially wallpapered with silver foil for the occasion.

Malcolm Payne on Batiss, Duchamp and Beards

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Recently retired from Michaelis School of Fine Art, where he is a professor emeritus, Malcolm Payne is a key figure in this country's experimental and conceptual practice. Coming to prominence in the early 1970s, Payne has distinguished himself as a sculptor, printmaker and video artist. Seated in his Kalk Bay studio, surrounded by a suite of new beard paintings, Payne considers the early influence of Walter Battiss, Marcel Duchamp and musician Jeff Mpakati on his life and work. Dismissive of the way struggle art collaged stock images of violence, he also ventures a thought on how artistic practice can refashion the way we think and speak about art.

Wayne Barker on Pierneef, anger and the SADF

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An indomitable figure in the recent history of South African art, Wayne Barker emerged during a period when the neo-expressionist idiom was at its height. Although celebrated for his mixed-media painting, his practice encompasses so much more: printmaking, installation, performance and curation, his various activities typically informed by his bawdy sense for fun and provocation. On the eve of his 25-year retrospective, Barker talks to Robert Sloon about destroying Pierneef, inventing Andrew Moletsi, opening the Famous International Gallery, interpreting the legends of South African life and why the studio remains his most important ally.

Frances Goodman

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The paradoxical nature of Frances Goodman's exhibition Morbid Appetites reveals itself gradually: first in the subtle gleam of the title outside the gallery space, then in the seductive allure of a surreal boutique-like display of gorgeous luggage, and, in the distance, transformed designer carrier bags against a silky, branded background.

Resolution: The Power of Innuendo

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The photographic exhibition, Resolution: The Power of Innuendo, is an invitation to look and to see. It is presented in a very quiet way and provides a conversation in which the viewer may participate.

Sanell Aggenbach

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Sanell Aggenbach used Graceland as the namesake for her latest exhibition, which dabbles in the murky territory of Afrikaans identity and culture.

Strengths and Convictions

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Curated by Gavin Jantjes, the exhibition Strengths and Convictions, which deals with the life and times of the South African Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela, occupies five galleries and is organised (more or less) thematically and chronologically.

Willem Boshoff and Karel Nel

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November 2009 saw the opening of the much talked about CIRCA on Jellicoe, a purpose-designed exhibition venue covered in a highly seductive cloak of lustrous warm brown shades.

Alexis Preller

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If you feel you must reach for European tools to access Preller's life and work, rather than the surrealists or symbolists, you should look to Gauguin or Pechstein, Stern or Battiss, who fought to understand the exotic in a parochial world

Athi-Patra Ruga

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"By the time Beiruth makes an appearance in the fourth and fifth image of the series, he is entirely unnecessary and complicates the simplicity of the images."

Bili Bidjocka ' Meschac Gaba

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"The contemporary concept of the African diaspora... is a European construct... making it ironic that the African diaspora (as it is defined in the European and American artworld) is Cape Town's gateway to Africa"

Braam Kruger

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"Why am I an artist?" Braam Kruger once asked himself. "For the lifestyle." By all accounts Kruger was an old school artist who felt compelled to live up to the myth that artists ought to be eccentric bohemians living on the fringes of conventional society. Based on the evidence of this retrospective exhibition, his persona overshadowed his practice; one gets the impression that Kruger passed it off as an offshoot of his lifestyle, which included much witty repartee. Undoubtedly Kruger's wry sense of humour, irreverence and recalcitrance can be traced in his art.

Colin Richards

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"Several works are like cryptic crossword clues. Once you've grasped their inner pun, you should, to all intents and purposes, move on, smiling at your own cleverness"

Conrad Botes

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With its hybrid animal human figures and visual allegiance to pop art and the comic book idiom one can't help pegging Conrad Botes as Norman Catherine meets Roy Lichtenstein.

Godfried Donker

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"His work is bound up in the social complexities that still exist in the islands, in particular the varied racial mix and the apparent contradiction between the rituals of Carnival and a society of deeply devout Roman Catholics"

Simon Gush

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Back for a sojourn in Johannesburg, Belgium resident Simon Gush's first solo exhibition in his former hometown was a slightly pared down version of the show as it appeared at Michael Stevenson in September. Titled Sidestep, it oddly failed to attract the mob that Brodie/Stevenson's openings usually achieve, Gush's roots in the city notwithstanding. This meant that one could find parking within a kilometer of the gallery, but also, of more concern to Gush, that his stack of die-cut blank posters, Demos (After Felix Gonzalez-Torres) (2009), remained tall. Of the people in attendance, it seemed that only a few picked up that the reference to Gonzalez-Torres was an invitation to viewers to help themselves to a poster.

Sue Williamson

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"Statements of protest are scrawled across the walls inside the house like graffiti, implying that this place of intimacy has become a public site of contestation"

Wim Botha

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"One replicates the confidence of Italian Renaissance classicism at its height, the other turns the Baroque exuberance of Bernini and Rubens, as well as Velazquez's contemporary realism, into an expressionistic wasteland presided over by skeletons"

Wim Botha

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"One replicates the confidence of Italian Renaissance classicism at its height, the other turns the Baroque exuberance of Bernini and Rubens, as well as Velazquez's contemporary realism, into an expressionistic wasteland presided over by skeletons"

Justin Brett

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Justin Brett's first solo offering, Out of Sight, takes Graaff's pool as a point of intersection for issues of desire, homosexuality, masculinity and a dirty kind of scopophilia.

Karin Preller

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The discreet drama in these works is palpable. Four paintings of men and cars could be sprocketed together; they seem sequential. Their story is discomforting, sinister, ineffable… and yet, we look at the beautiful old cars, the lie of the land from over 40 years ago. A judder of nostalgia sweeps us. Black Dress (2009) focuses on the gesture of an adult reaching for a child's hand. It is timeless and wordless, and represents a refined bond of protectiveness, possessiveness, properness and love.

Mary Wafer

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For a number of years Mary Wafer has remained below the contemporary art radar. While her paintings popped up intermittently, on book covers and small group shows, and most visibly at David Brodie's Joburg Art Fair booth two years running, she certainly hasn't had the profile she deserves. Wafer's autumn show at Brodie/Stevenson, The frontier is never somewhere else, went a long way towards remedying that. This strong, sizeable body of work revealed an artist less interested in existing painterly trends and more concerned with establishing her own territory.

Nicholas Hlobo

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This is Hlobo's fate. Therein his works and his body emerge as enactments in a diorama, or as curator Jen Mergel in her contribution to the monograph notes, "a mysterious drama we've stumbled upon mid-scene".

2009 Joburg Art Fair

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It was all "look but don't touch" at this year's Joburg Art Fair, with visitor numbers up significantly but sales down on last year. Fortunately this year's special projects were more robust and provocative than Simon Njami's bloated curatorial offering last year.

Antonio Ole and Aime Mpane

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Artists in Dialogue: António Ole and Aimé Mpane is the first in a series of exhibitions in which two artists have been invited to create new work in response to one another.

Brett Murray

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Crocodile Tears, Brett Murray's latest exhibition of bronze sculptures, two-dimensional cut-outs and works on paper, extends the crocodile tears metaphor to comment on the current political situation in South Africa where public and performative emotional displays are commonplace. Against a backdrop of corrupt practices, governmental inefficacy and ethically dubious political practice, Murray's satiric commentary is both refreshing and sophisticated.