H y l t o n   N e l    ( 1 9 4 1  - )
‘Fuck the bastards/Champagne for my real friends’, 2004


ceramic platter, width: 37.8cm

signed on back ‘HNH 29.11.4’

Hylton Nel is a master of combining whimsy with satire and making pointed, albeit often humorous, references to his personal concerns as well as those of the world-at-large. In his exhibition at Michael Stevenson in December 2004 to January 2005 he produced a series of plates, in this same green glaze and with similar line drawings, entitled ‘George Bush is such a great guy’. Nel’s depiction of the American president has him flouncing around in a frock interspersed with the inscription, ‘It is more tasteful to destroy human flesh and bone with machines from a distance than to cut off peoples’ heads by hand and film that for television’.

In this new work Nel seduces the eye with his sinuous line drawing and the lush verdant glaze, yet the mind is taken aback when it comprehends the intensity of his inscription ‘Fuck the bastards/Champagne for my real friends’, not the words one expects to find on a platter that recalls the forms of domestic wares.

In 2005 Nel’s work will be included in an exhibition, To hold, curated by Peter Ting in Cork, the European City of Culture for 2005. This exhibition of seventeen ceramic artists from across the globe asserts that the ‘wish to record, to interact, to punctuate, to “discover” through adding or subtracting essential marks, on and into clay, is shared by all.’

A monograph on Nel’s work, published by Michael Stevenson in December 2003, is available from the gallery.

© 2003 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.