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Joe Dog @ Co/Mix 2011

March 3, 2011

Andy Mason writes: We are excited to have the country’s most radical and accomplished comic artists on CO/MIX 2011 – one of whom is Bitterkomix’s Anton Kannemeyer (Joe Dog). Anton has been raising other people’s eyebrows, hackles and temperatures since the early 1990s. I can still remember the first time I encountered his work, at a Bitterkomix exhibition at the Grahamstown Festival in 1995. I described that encounter in my book What’s So Funny? Here’s the excerpt:

THE WILD PARTY It was a bitterly cold night in settler country. Around me, in a dark, bunker-like chill-out area in an abandoned power station that had temporarily been converted into a nightclub, stoned ravers lay comatose on bean bags while a thunderous bass line made my skull vibrate. It was the 1995 Grahamstown National Arts Festival, and I was looking for the Bitterkomix exhibition. Somebody pointed to a door, stuck onto which was a poster showing a young Afrikaans girl in a bonnet. She was dressed in underwear and net stockings, and behind her was a tiled wall smeared with blood and a bench with a knife stuck into it. Under the image ran a black strip with the words ‘SEKS DWELMS GEWELD PLESIER’ – sex, drugs, violence and pleasure. The exhibition consisted of drawings, paintings, hand coloured pages of comic art and silkscreen prints in which comic strip pages had been enlarged to poster size and expertly screen-printed in multiple colours onto fine art paper. As I stood looking at these pictures, I was accosted by a sense of disjuncture. The subject matter of the images was lurid and sensational, but the quality of their rendition was not only inspired, it was meticulous in every detail. I was reminded of two exhibitions that I had recently attended on a trip to the USA: the first, entitled ‘Drawn to Text’, featured original artwork from books illustrated by underground cartoonists Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb and others; the second was a major retrospective of silkscreen prints by Pop Art pioneer Roy Lichtenstein. In both of these exhibitions I had been aware of a similar sense of disjuncture between the content of the images and the aesthetic passion with which they were rendered. I realised that it was not so much their content that gave these images their substance, as the formal qualities they acquired through the artistic processes that brought them into being, causing them to transcend their mundane origins and enter the realm of art. These young Afrikaner art rebels had brought to their work the aesthetic sensibility of the celebrated New York graphix magazine, Raw, edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. Their comics, though both entertaining and political, were not primarily about entertainment or politics. They were, essentially, about art. The Bitterkomix artists had set up camp on the borderline that separates cartooning from art, and were rearranging the landscape on both sides of the fence. I have seen many Bitterkomix exhibitions since then, but none have had the impact of that first encounter in the pulsating semi-darkness of the abandoned power station.

The images: Anton has sent us two hand-painted images that will end up as prints to be exhibited at CO/MIX 2011. These are amongst a series of prints that he is producing for forthcoming international shows later in the year.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. willemsamuel permalink
    March 9, 2011 7:24 am

    Yey! Oom Anton is hier!

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