Brett Murray / Hail to the Thief

Brett Murray 20 November - 08 January 2011 Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Established Cape Town based artist Brett Murray returns with a new body of satirical work that continues his acerbic attacks on abuses of power, corruption and political dumbness. Whereas his last show, Crocodile Tears, sought to parody Mbeki’s still-born African Renaissance, Hail to the Thief uses the populist imagery and language currently in vogue with the present powers that be , to mock and goad. Murray’s bronzes, etchings, paintings and silk-screens form part of a vitriolic and succinct censure of bad governance and are his attempts to humorously expose the paucity of morals and greed within the ruling elite.

Brett Murray studied at the University of Cape Town where he was awarded his Master’s of Fine Arts degree in 1989. He has exhibited extensively in South Africa and abroad. From 1991 to 1994 he established the sculpture department at the University of Stellenbosch, where he curated the show Thirty Sculptors from the Western Cape in 1992. In 1995 he curated, with Kevin Brand, Scurvy, at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. That year he co-curated Junge Kunst Aus Zud Afrika for the Hänel Gallery in Frankfurt, Germany.

His solo shows include: White Boy Sings the Blues at the Rembrandt Gallery in Johannesburg in 1996, I love Africa at the Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town in 2000, Us and Them at the Axis Gallery in New York in 2003, Sleep Sleep and Crocodile Tears at the Goodman Galleries in Johannesburg and Cape Town. Murray was included on the Cuban Biennial of 1994, and subsequently his works were exhibited at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Germany. Brett was included on the group show, Springtime in Chile at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile. He was also part of the travelling show Liberated Voices, Contemporary Art From South Africa which opened at the Museum for African Art in New York in 1998. His work formed part of the shows Min(d)fields at the Kunsthaus in Baselland, Switzerland in 2004 and The Geopolitics of Animation at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville in Spain in 2007.

He won the Cape Town Urban Art competition in 1998 that resulted in the public work Africa, a 3.5 metre bronze sculpture, being erected in Cape Town’s city centre. He won, with Stefaans Samcuia, the commission to produce an 8 × 30 metre wall sculpture for the foyer of the Cape Town International Convention Centre in 2003. He was nominated as the Standard Bank Young Artist in 2002.

Murray’s work is housed in numerous South African and international collections including Iziko, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg Art Gallery; Durban Art Gallery Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Sandton Municipality, Johannesburg, BHP Billiton Collection, Johannesburg, MTN Collection, Johannesburg, Sasol Collection, Johannesburg, South African Breweries, Johannesburg, South African Broadcasting Corporation, Johannesburg, The South African Reserve Bank, Johannesburg, Vodacom Collection, Cape Town, Collection of Mikki and Stanley Weithorn, USA.

Murray is a full-time artist who works in Cape Town, South Africa, where he lives with his wife Sanell Aggenbach and their daughter Lola.

Artworks

About

Brett Murray

Brett Murray studied at the University of Cape Town where he was awarded his Master’s of Fine Arts degree in 1988 with distinction. The title of his dissertation is ‘A Group of Satirical Sculptures Examining Social and Political Paradoxes in the South African Context’. As an undergraduate he won Irma Stern Scholarships in both 1981 and 1982. He won the Simon Garson Prize for the most Promising student in 1982 and was awarded the Michaelis Prize in 1983. As a postgraduate student he received a Human Sciences Research Council bursary, a University of Cape Town Research Scholarship, the Jules Kramer Grant and an Irma Stern Scholarship.

He has exhibited extensively in South Africa and abroad. From 1991 to 1994 he established the sculpture department at the University of Stellenbosch, where he curated the show ‘Thirty Sculptors from the Western Cape’ in 1992. In 1995 he curated, with Kevin Brand, ‘Scurvy’, at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. That year he co-curated ‘Junge Kunst Aus Zud Afrika’ for the Hänel Gallery in Frankfurt, Germany.

In 1999, Brett co-founded, with artists and cultural practitioners Lisa Brice, Kevin Brand, Bruce Gordon, Andrew Putter, Sue Williamson, Robert Weinek and Lizza Littlewort, ‘Public Eye’, a Section 27 company that manage and initiate art projects in the public arena with the aims to develop a greater profile for public art in Cape Town. They have initiated projects on Robben Island, worked with the cities health officials on aids awareness campaigns and initiated outdoor sculpture projects including ‘The Spier Sculpture Biennale’. He curated ‘Homeport’ in 2001 which saw 15 artists create site specific text based works in Cape Town’s waterfront precinct. Public Eye have interfaced with cultural funding bodies as consultants and hosted multi-media events across the city.

Murray was included on the Cuban Biennial of 1994, and subsequently his works where exhibited at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Germany. He was included on the group show, ‘Springtime in Chile’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile. He was also part of the travelling show ‘Liberated Voices, Contemporary Art From South Africa’ which opened at the Museum for African Art in New York in 1998. His work formed part of the shows ‘Min(d)fields’ at the Kunsthaus in Baselland, Switzerland in 2004 and ‘The Geopolitics of Animation‘ at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville in Spain in 2007. He won the Cape Town Urban Art competition in 1998 that resulted in the public work ‘Africa’, a 3.5 metre bronze sculpture, being erected in Cape Town’s city centre. He won, with Stefaans Samcuia, the commission to produce an 8 × 30 meter wall sculpture for the foyer of the Cape Town International Convention Centre in 2003. In 2007 he completed ‘Specimens’, a large wall sculpture for the University Of Cape Town’s medical school campus. In 2011 he produced the public artwork ‘Seeds’ for The University of Bloemfontein and in 2013 he was commissioned to produce the 7 meter bronze ‘Citizen’ for the Auto & General Park in Johannesburg.

His solo shows include: ‘White Boy Sings the Blues’ at the Rembrandt Gallery in Johannesburg in 1996, ‘I love Africa’ at the Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town in 2000, ‘Us and Them’ at the Axis Gallery in New York in 2003 and ‘Sleep Sleep’ at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in 2006. His solo show, ‘Crocodile Tears’, was held at both the Cape Town and Johannesburg branches of The Goodman Gallery in 2007 and 2009. His recent show, ‘Hail To The Thief’, was first held at the Goodman Gallery in Cape Town in 2010, and then at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg in 2012. He was nominated as the Standard Bank Young Artist of the year in 2002.