Writing Art History Since 2002

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Graskop Hotel | Graskop

Conceived as “an inflammatory political joke,” the photomontage was very soon co-opted as “a conscious artistic technique”. At least this is how George Grosz, one of the ‘founders’ of photomontage, narrates the august beginnings of this modernist device. Despite the warnings implicit in its use locally, particularly when reconstituting identities other than one’s own, Asha Zero finds photomontage a useful tool with which to create his mostly feminine portraits.Less cluttered than the well-known archetypes of the genre, and typically set against neutral backgrounds, Zero’s fetishistic representations ultimately dissatisfy. They are too cutesy, too loaded with already familiar gestures to be provocative. The curious titles – operator in the love heist and wibble wabble – are the only real point of intrigue.Shane de Lange’s contribution to this two-man show proved more fruitful, if equally marred by its resort to fashionable gesture. Installed across two adjacent spaces, the rump of De Lange’s show comprised 37 works on paper – actually sketches for an animation sequence he is working on. In their darker incarnations, his quasi-figurative drawings reminded me of Barry McGee, the San Francisco-based painter and graffiti artist at the forefront of the new wave in graphic art. Possibly it was the overbite common to all his alien figures that prompted this insight.De Lange’s better works, for this reviewer at least, were those presented against a simple white background. Here the artist’s obviously skilled hand is restrained, evoking in the simplest of lines strange apparitions. The best of the bunch is a black figure with geometrically oversized head, the words “NOT ANOTHER OTHER” appearing next to it. The artist seems onto something there, although what I’m not quite sure.In the room next door, which faces out onto Graskop’s main road, De Lange created a large, geometric wall painting/installation redolent of Frank Stella. The artist subverts the linearity of his painting – part of a series of in situ painting installations – by introducing dissonance, here a series of lines that bleed off the right-hand side of the grid, developing into more organic forms. It was charmingly seductive.

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