Anton Kannemeyer


Fear of a Black Planet

16 October - 22 November 2008

Michael Stevenson is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new work by Anton Kannemeyer.

Also known as Joe Dog, the creator of darkly satirical comics published in the Bitterkomix anthologies of which he is co-editor, Kannemeyer is a prolific producer of prints and drawings, and has recently extended his practice to include paintings in acrylic on canvas. The shift in medium allows him to translate his subversive imagery onto a larger scale, heightening the awkward relationship viewers often have with his work. Kannemeyer will also exhibit large-scale drawings for the first time, in addition to smaller drawings and prints.

In April/May 2008 Kannemeyer held his first New York exhibition, The Haunt of Fears (a reference to a 1950s horror comic anthology published by EC Comics). The exhibition, at Jack Shainman Gallery, was praised in the New York Times for its 'semiotic sophistication, graphic ingenuity and X-ray political vision'. In Fear of a Black Planet - the title this time quoting the 1990 album by the American rap/hip-hop group Public Enemy - Kannemeyer continues his investigation of the fear and anxiety that underlie South Africa's fragile democracy. As always in his work, the thin veneer of polite white society is peeled away to expose the hypocrisy and racism that lurk beneath, but Kannemeyer is as relentless in his critique of the corruption and greed endemic amongst the country's new political elite. Socio-politics and the individual psyche are equally scrutinised in the ongoing Alphabet of Democracy series and related N is for Nightmare works.

Kannemeyer's interests extend to the legacy of colonialism on the African continent - as in the series Cursed Paradise - and to the ways in which racism is embedded in language itself. He appropriates the style of comic artist Hergé and in particular the character of Tintin as a personal avatar as well as an embodiment of Western colonialism. As Danie Marais observes, 'In Kannemeyer's work Tintin is a white African trapped in his own incriminating skin; a character who cannot escape his colonial past regardless of his personal political convictions.' Another recurrent figure is the archetype of the defeated white patriarch, an older, balding and now morose version of the boy-adventurer. Not evading scrutiny, Kannemeyer himself appears in his works as observer and commentator on his own, everyday existence.

Born in 1967 and based in Cape Town, Kannemeyer has been publishing and exhibiting his work since 1992, the year he and Conrad Botes founded Bitterkomix as students at the University of Stellenbosch. Recent group exhibitions include Artists at Castagnoli in Gaiole, Italy (2007); From Trentino South Tyrol to the Rest of the World and Back at Kunst Merano Arte in Merano, Italy (2007); and Africa Comics at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2006).

Kannemeyer will exhibit concurrently with Odili Donald Odita.

Kannemeyer will give a free public walkabout of his exhibition on Saturday 18 October at 11am, and another for the Friends of the National Gallery on Thursday 23 October at 11am; cost for the latter is R20 (members and non-members). The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.

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