n De Arte - Brett Murray, Brett Murray (Ed.) : book review

Volume 2015, Issue 91
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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This impressive coffee-table style book, published by Jacana, represents South African pop-satirist Brett Murray's work since the early 1990s, and contextualises the importance of political comment and even agitation propaganda in his work. Four essays introduce his work, laying the foundation for interpreting Murray's work as far more complex than his infamous portrait of President Jacob Zuma,. Although the contributors make a point of discussing much of Murray's oeuvre, pointing out the subtleties of his political comment through the years, seems to be the focal point of this book with the 'Hailto the thief' exhibition being the highlight. It remains a useful vantage point from which to interpret Murray's work. Annotations by the artist himself introduce each of the bodies of work that are represented in the book, and echo the dominant themes such as identity, political satire and appropriation of popular culture discussed by Steven Dubin, Ivor Powell, Michael Smith and Murray's fellow Michaelis graduate in Fine Art, Roger van Wyk. The book features large high-quality prints of much of Murray's work, and these are arranged into sections around the specific bodies of work they represent. There are numerous double page images, and both close-up and in situ images of the artworks. The essays that preface much of the visual material are insightful and challenging, and represent key voices in the heated debate that surrounded during the time of the exhibition. Towards the back of the book there is also a copy of an article on the matter by Njabulo Ndebele, which appeared in in 2012.

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