INTERVIEWED BY Malibongwe Tyilo
Even if you walked into WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery in Woodstock, where 25-year-old artist Morné Visagie’s exhibition is currently showing, and you somehow missed the title of the exhibition, The Line of Beauty, there is little doubt that beauty would be one of the first things to come to mind.
The exhibition displays Morné’s unapologetic love for colour, form and beauty. Titles of individual works vary from A Brief Introduction to the Monarchy of Colour: The Seduction of Blue to Collapsing Sunset / The Abandonment of Romance, which refers to a series of collages that deconstruct the elements of a sunset – the horizon line, the sun and its reflection, the sky and the sea – to produce new compositions.
We caught up with Morné to find out a little more about his wild romance with colour.
Where does your love for colour come from? Where did it begin?
There have been two main elements leading to my use of colour as a primary material. During my studies at Michaelis, UCT, I really struggled to relate to anything figurative or pictorial or create a visual language that was figurative. I started working in a more abstract way (at some stage I had an obsession with blue squares). The work became devoid of all marks of self-expression and any pictorial diversity, to the point where all you would see would be colour. Through breaking information down into an abstract form, the work became less personal and through the process, more public. I wanted the viewer to enjoy something pure and beautiful. Colour was the medium and it started the narrative.
Do you work strictly towards your exhibitions or do you have other projects that fill your days?
I’m full time at Warren Editions (a fine art print and publishing studio in Cape Town) and I work on my pieces in the evenings, or whenever I get a chance. My partner, André Sales, and I also host weekly dinners at our home in Bo-Kaap, called La Petite Mort. As a printmaker one works very closely with other artists on the work that they’ll be making in the studio. I’ve particularly been working a lot with colour – mixing ink, coming up with recipes for artists’ colour palettes. I spent hours mixing the perfect pale-but-dirty pink for Georgina Gratrix’s woodcut, The Flaneur. This exposure to colour through my printmaking practice has resulted in the very bold use of colour in my exhibition. I have never used colour to this extent. And I’m not sure if I can again. And don’t get me started on the politics of green…
What materials do you work with?
I like working with different materials. An Affair Below and Fragment (Derek Jarman, 1994), are made up of ’tiles’. These ’tiles’ are relief prints, on paper, that are stretched around primed wooden blocks. The size of the individual tiles is the same size of the tiles of the swimming pool at the Long Street Baths, where André and I have our morning swim. Other materials include Black Zimbabwean granite, Guatemala Verde marble, African Walnut, African Blackwood, pine, smoked glass, brass and copper, the latter two being very common materials in a printmaking studio, used for etching.
How long have you been working on this particular exhibition?
The Line of Beauty is showing at WHATIFTHEWORLD gallery at 1 Argyle Street, Woodstock, Cape Town from 16 July – 16 September. For more information, visit whatiftheworld.com. To view more of Morné’s work, visit mornevisagie.com.