Monday, February 23, 2009

Bram Fischer Public Art Commission

"If in my fight I can encourage even some people to understand and to abandon policies they now so blindly follow, I shall not regret any punishment I may incur." - Bram Fischer, 1965

The Johannesburg Development Agency asked me to make work for a community hall in Bram Fischerville, a neighborhood in Soweto named after human rights activist Bram Fischer.  He was the defense attorney for Nelson Mandela and saved Mandela from the death penalty.  Later, Fischer himself was sentenced to a long imprisonment and died because of poor medical treatment he received in jail.

I designed a five-circle mural series and a large tondo (round painting) because the windows in the hall are circular.  Each circle represents one aspect of his personality, and I chose five and the bright red background to echo the 5-pointed star of the Communist Party, of which he was a founding and prominent member, back when it was a powerful force in anti-apartheid activism.

Then, on the display wall at ground level, I wrote a bio of Bram Fischer and had it letter-stencilled onto a big sheet of Plexiglass, and hung that on the wall.  Next to it, I cut out a thick piece of chipboard Supawood and painted a head and shoulders portrait of Fischer there.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Friends and Strangers

Each of these portraits was done by having the subject sit behind a wall I built of glass blocks, the kind you find in a shower.

I know some of these people; others I pulled in from the streets of Fordsburg. 

Whether they are friends or strangers, however, each one reveals aspects of their hidden personalities, via the distortions of the glass.

This project was something different for me and I enjoyed the challenge of painting people rather than cityscapes or landscapes.  It struck me that one can possibly get to know a place through the faces that populate it.

Anyway, these are now framed and could be arranged in a long line or in this cube formation; they look good either way.
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