An indomitable figure in the recent history of South African art, Wayne Barker emerged during a period when the neo-expressionist idiom was at its height. Although celebrated for his mixed-media painting, his practice encompasses so much more: printmaking, installation, performance and curation, his various activities typically informed by his bawdy sense for fun and provocation. On the eve of his 25-year retrospective, Barker talks to Robert Sloon about destroying Pierneef, inventing Andrew Moletsi, opening the Famous International Gallery, interpreting the legends of South African life and why the studio remains his most important ally.
Super BoringRS: You’re showing new work at Stellenbosch’s SMAC Art Gallery in March, under the title Super Boring. How did you come up with the title?WB: I was in Venice last June when a famous German artist, Wolfgang Tillmans, pushed in front of me at a bar. I said, “Hey what you doing?” He replied, “Fuck you. You are boring.” I said, “Fuck you. You are super boring.” When he opened his wallet there were loads and loads of dollars. Eventually, virtually the whole bar was screaming at this guy, “Super boring, super boring!” And that’s how the title came about. For the show at SMAC I’m doing pastiches of some of the paintings that have sold for the highest prices in South Africa, Maggie Laubscher, Irma Stern and JH Pierneef. They are painted like a colour blind person would see and have neon on them saying, “super boring”. Read further in the current issue of Art South Africa magazine