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After the Barbarians

A South African artist's satirical comics take on the country's political state

by Karen Day in Culture on 14 October 2011

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Controversial Cape Town artist and Bitterkomix co-founder Anton Kannemeyer creates satirical socio-political comics to highlight the absurd aspects of South Africa's post-apartheid culture. In "After The Barbarians," his second solo show at NYC's Jack Shainman Gallery, Kannemeyer continues to shake things up with colorful, large-scale paintings and works on paper, questioning those in economical and political power.

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His politically-charged art often criticizes conservative Afrikaans values and issues specific to South Africa, but his new work shines a spotlight on the continent at large. Named for the J.M. Coetzee poem, "Waiting for the Barbarians," the show depicts how life in Africa has been affected by Western colonization, and the corruption that came with it.

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Kannemeyer, a well-read political pundit, nevertheless makes the distinction that he's not a political cartoonist but, rather, an artist reacting to the world around him, free of deadlines or forced thought.

Often borrowing the simplified illustration style Hergé made famous with his "Adventures of Tintin" books, Kannemeyer turns complex issues into informative and entertaining illustrations. Case in point, his "Alphabet of Democracy," where he uses the cast of letters to identify various issues. "B is for Blame," which references a 19th century Giovanni Battista Casti poem, poses the question of who is actually responsible for the current climate when an "enslaved humanity" does nothing themselves.

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Kannemeyer's provocative portrayal of post-colonial Africa opened 13 October 2011 and runs through 17 November 2011 at Jack Shainman Gallery.

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