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W AY N E B A R K E R 2011-2013 BEAD WORKS

Installation view Circa Gallery, Standard Bank 2011 & 2012


herlock Holmes, Sigmund Freud, and the Italian art-historian Giovanni Morelli may not at first appear to have anything in common with each other, let alone with Wayne Barker, but – as Carlo Ginzburg has argued in an influential essay – these three characters each embody a version of a particular modern approach both to problem solving and to the re-creation and discovery of the past. Holmes, Freud and Morelli all find clues to events in the past – whether crimes, forgotten events, or the identity of an original artist – in scattered small details: a footprint, an inexplicable dream, or the shape of an angel’s ear. These apparently trivial details yield rich rewards when closely studied. Wayne Barker should be associated with this trio and this tradition as, like them, he is part detective, part psychologist and part art historian. These threads come together successfully and naturally in his latest series of bead “paintings”. At first glance, the works are glittery, dazzling and seductive but it soon become clear that there is a rich vein of social comment buried beneath the bright surface. If we take Barker’s personal iconology into account we can recognise that these works represent a natural progression from his earliest work as a rebel bohemian attacking an establishment. His distinctive and unmistakable stylistic language has remained constant in the decades since his start. Text from «Super Boring» catalogue. Carol Brown, 2012 Curator at Durban Art Museum, South Africa 2008 International curator for Southern Africa



CHURCH LADY 200 x 200 cm

LAND & DESIRE 200 x 200 cm


LAND FOR SALE 200 x 200 cm

MADONNA BLUES 200 x 200 cm

JOBURG JAZZ 200 x 200 cm

CITY OF GOLD 200 x 200 cm

IT’S IN YOUR HEAD 200 x 200 cm

LADY GAGA 200 x 200 cm

// CURRENT EVENTS // / / A R T FA I R S 2 0 1 3 / / London Art 13 Dubai Art Fair Sydney Art Fair Johannesburg Art Fair

// GROUP SHOWS 2013 // June 2013 : ”My Joburg”, Fondation Maison Rouge. Several local group shows in South Africa.

/ / P U B L I C AT I O N S / / 1.Featured in“Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa», Smithonian Museum, 2013. 2. Featured in «Art at the end of apartheid» by John Peffer, University of Minnesota Press. 3. «Art in South Africa» by Sue Williamson an Ashraf Jamal. 4. ’Super Boring’ catalogue, Standard Bank retrospective. 5. Artist’s Monograph, Wayne Barker.

/C i /t y PP RESS // ress, september 2012

The rebelling younger painter then paints an olive branch along with the words “victory” and “play”.

Two creative luminaries on parallel life paths found their work speaking in a singular voice at Circa on Jellicoe last week.

It’s another serendipitous gem in this interdisciplinary jam session, almost as if the painter knew that the victorious completion of the work will come when Ibrahim plays in the work’s presence.

The spectacular bad boy of South African art, painter Wayne Barker; and the sagacious jazz pianist, Abdullah Ibrahim, became the subject of a unique artistic conversation as their work serendipitously found a simultaneous audience at the Joburg gallery. The conversation involved Barker’s current exhibition of paintings and glass-bead panels titled Love Land and the music of the elder jazzman. Ibrahim gave a rare series of solo piano recitals at the venue. He followed these up with another series at the Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town. Under the sedate aura of Circa’s honey-coloured lights, the pianist soared into sonic vistas as the painter’s work attempted a visual equivalent. The fine artworks displayed in the main gallery hall also include a few works from the Legends series. Some of these formed part of Barker’s midcareer retrospective show, titled Super Boring, but were never shown. They are oil-on-canvas paintings dedicated to giants like Hugh Masekela, Nelson Mandela and, of course, Ibrahim himself.

Circa’s cavernous structure, with more than 200 art lovers congregated around the jazzman, acquired a ceremonial solemnity. This even as the pianist’s exacting appeal to decorum apparently contrasted the painterly recalcitrance of parts of Barker’s project. The painting (pictured bottom right) created in ode of the pianist is titled VICTORY. Its motif comprises a portrait of Ibrahim with his eyes closed and hands clasped, as if in prayer. The sage’s likeness is painted as an imposition on a Pierneef painting of an early urbanscape of the Cape of Good Hope. It is in line with Barker’s long-standing project of revisiting Pierneef’s landscapes. So Ibrahim’s meditative face is deployed to disrupt or intervene in Pierneef and his Afrikaner-nationalist unpeopled vision of South Africa. By insisting on Ibrahim’s inclusion in an Afrikaner nationalist’s representation of the Cape, Barker seeks to remind his forebear that the land and its people are one and that’s a beautiful thing.

However, the works seemed to have found each other in the quintessential spirit of jazz. The marked ebb and flow of improvisation and premeditation seemed to be a unifying factor: like an inter-textual dialogue with every gracious melodic phrase on the piano finding a fitting answer in each whimsical brush stroke on Barker’s canvases. Barker relies on the whole history and tradition of painting along with the problematic legacy of dodgy creatives like Pierneef to ballast his blast of beauty. Ibrahim, too, ascended the plinth to sit at the baby grand piano with charts of composed music. So, as he issued immaculate clusters of improvised colours, there was an established sureness of hit songs like Ishmael, Blues For A Hip King and Tintinyana to provide a steady foundation. » Barker’s Love Land is on at Circa on Jellicoe in Rosebank, Joburg, until October 6

Wayne Barker Beadworks 2011-2013  

Catalogue of Beadworks (2011-2013) by South African artist Wayne Barker

Wayne Barker Beadworks 2011-2013  

Catalogue of Beadworks (2011-2013) by South African artist Wayne Barker