Writing Art History Since 2002

First Title

Art South Africa Volume 12: Issue 02

ASA12.2 DC
Dion Cupido, Untitled, 2013. Acrylic paint and ink on canvas. Courtesy of Worldart.

Like Kilmany-Jo Liversage, Capetonian Dion Cupido, is fixated on what he calls “African-pop portraiture.” Unlike Liversage, Cupido’s images are muted, distressed, bleached. Both artists belong to the World Art stable, operating as rabbit-holes into the present. If Bondo is captivated by the big idea, Cupido, like Liversage, triggers a private emotion. Cupido caught Beyoncé Knowles’s attention when, averting the glare of the paparazzi on Church street, Cape Town, she slunk into the World Art gallery, drawn by the quiet dun-coloured world of Cupido’s art. This is speculation on my part, but Beyonce certainly bought one of Cupido’s Afro-pop portraits – was it the one of Alec Wek? My point is, with his love of industrial ink Cupido has conjured a taste for seductive and subtly scrimmed portraits that suggest the latticed booth of a confessional. A kind of visual sonar, Cupido’s paintings act as a faint reverb to Liversage’s noise. As a team they show very well together; and if Bondo amps the big idea, then Cupido suggests that “putting too much intellect in a work can also take away from it.”Of his painting of Alec Wek, Cupido has this to say: “I use an image of a very popular model, a supermodel, she is larger than life; her face is all over the media. She is without doubt one of Africa’s most beautiful women but for me this painting is not about creating an image with a strong likeness. I dig deeper. I colour over the lines transcending the icon, the glossy, photoshopped, flawless, out of reach cover of a magazine women to someone more familiar, to something I believe we have lost touch with.” Liversage, Bondo, and Cupido are making the connections that matter in styles re-treaded, remixed, retro, now: post-produced.

Ashraf Jamal is an editor, writer and academic – Media Studies, CPUT.

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