Dead oak (2019) – hand-pulled screen print by Anton Kannemeyer
Anton Kannemeyer (b. 1967) is known, revered and also berated for his work in Bitterkomix – a subversive and biting satirical publication started in 1992 with fellow student Conrad Botes. But over the years, while Kannemeyer’s provocative take on South African politics, sex and race has continued to attract critical acclaim, a sleeper project of sorts has been quietly establishing itself in the background of his practice. It’s the documentation of weather-beaten and deformed alien trees; a project that originates from his enduring visual interest in the forms and abstract marks found in the landscape – keenly observed and described in the artist’s signature, masterful use of line. The mangled shapes of the trees themselves seem to stand as forms drawn by cross-currents of time and place – the results of decades of the unrelenting South Easter wind. But, echoing the thoughts of writer JM Coetzee*, the disfigured forms also make spectacular profiles, what Coetzee calls “emblems of distinction”.
Kannemeyer has held numerous solo and group exhibitions both locally and abroad, including two solo shows in New York and group shows in Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, USA, Australia, Germany, DRC and The Netherlands. He has published a number of books including Pappa in Afrika (2010) which won the 2015 prize for best foreign graphic novel at Amadoras International Comic Festival in Portugal.
*Attwell, D 1993, J.M. Coetzee: South Africa and the Politics of Writing, University of California Press, California.