Untitled mixed media work, created in Cape Town, 2007

I guess I was looking for peace of mind, some way of coming to terms with the way that I make art and why. I’ve been so busy for so many years and art has often felt like a neglected afterthought, something I couldn’t seem to incorporate into my everyday life, always bigger and more complicated then I could manage. I thought that the only way to come to terms with art was to let go of my need to make art. That didn’t happen.

What did happen is yet another fundamental shift in the way I work. While in Cape Town, I participated in an art workshop with one week in a minimally equipped art studio to create work. With very few materials and the fact that it was impractical to spend lots of time prepping canvases and making pristine pieces, I went to another extreme. I started working with found pieces of cardboard.

The inn where I stayed with 8 other artists was in nearby Kalk Bay, where I found a book featuring vintage photos of wrestlers. I also became fascinated with various maps of South Africa and purchased a couple of atlases, one Apartheid-era and one post-Apartheid, showing how the names and boundaries changed. I wanted to combine the images of the wrestlers and the maps and started working in charcoal and paint on cardboard. Working with the very rough media allowed me to be much more relaxed about the standards I usually apply to the work and the expression came much easier and quicker than the past.

Amongst the work was a large mixed media drawing, which took about 4 days to complete. It’s made up of 128 pieces of cardboard from boxes that I found, either in the rubbish or on the street, and measures about 60 inches tall by 120 inches wide (1.5m by 3m) and mounted into a corner. Each of the images–the wrestling pair, the coiled snake and the black wrestler in white trunks–were drawn separately, and then merged into a single image with an interconnected map in the background.

This piece symbolizes to me struggles of South Africa and my personal struggles, with art and my own psyche.

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