Morné Visagie

Die eiland het my tong geskeur. Waar lê die taal vir soveel blou? Hier is net vlakwater se kleur. Dit is ons pa’s wat ons hier hou.

Morné Visagie (1989) is a South African artist and curator who lives and works in Cape Town. Visagie completed his MFA at the Michaelis School of Fine Art (UCT) in 2019. He spent three years (2013-2016) training as a professional printmaker at Warren Editions, a fine art print studio in Cape Town. Visagie has had several solo exhibitions, and his work has been included in many group shows.

Visagie had his first international solo exhibition in 2018 at Nuweland Gallery. “Die Bloue Wis”, was a curated exhibition of works from 2011-2018. Growing up on Robben Island, the Atlantic Ocean that separated Visagie from the Mainland became a recurring metaphor in his imagination, and for the past eight years, the colour blue has been the primary medium in his work; a personal symbol of death, loss, nostalgia, memory, religion, sexuality, exile and distance. 

With his recent body of work, “The Last Colour to Fade” (2019), he is researching Robben Island’s history as a place of dislocation and loss for those who have been discriminated against (banished and incarcerated there), and the sea, in this case the Atlantic Ocean, as a transitional space between life and death.

Drawing on personal recollections and collective history, “The Last Colour to Fade” offers a meditation on the sea as both a physical and psychological landscape. Memories of Visagie’s childhood spent on Robben Island are interwoven with historical facts, with narratives borrowed from literature and film, and images from art and life. Shifting between first person and third, between his own reflections and those of others, he has found in the lives and works of Adriaan Van Zyl, Derek Jarman, Jean Genet, Virginia Woolf and others a shared affinity for water. The sea – changeable, inconstant – reveals itself to be evocative of not only promise and peril, but of sensuality, desire and eroticism. It offers as imperfect parallel the image of the swimming pool and its attendant changing room, evoking a history of the queer body in art and writing.

Visagie’s current and recent works are abstracted interpretations of these themes, where colour and materiality are primary. The works share a persistent seriality, with the recurring image of a pool, the motif of tiles, and repetition of form. Most tends towards fragility, towards a suggested impermanence, made from tissue paper, recycled materials, or stained tarlatan cloth.

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