Gifpit is the name of a fictional village in the Karoo region of South Africa which is populated by withdrawn, eccentric personae. The stereotypical characters in Gifpit symbolise the traditional and conservative aspects of South African language and culture. Using irony and dark humour, Opperman illustrates metaphors that reflect the way in which ‘Afrikaners' regard both themselves and South African society. Some of her most iconic characters from Gifpit are depicted in black and white drawings accompanied by outspoken texts and will be exhibited in the display window along the Kunsthal's front slope. Visitors will be able to see Opperman working on her murals in the Kunsthal from 16 November.
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The comic strip Gifpit consists of spontaneously drawn stories characterised by a certain audacity and directness. Fragments from Gifpit, previously exhibited at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2011, can now be seen for the first time in the Netherlands. The characters from Gifpit personify every type of norm and value and are partly based on Opperman's late family members and the friends she grew up with. By portraying them in her stories as fictitious characters and elevating them to mythical symbols of traditional South Africa, Opperman manages to keep the memory of these people and their legacy alive. Gifpit is Opperman's attempt to understand her own identity as an ‘Afrikaner' in the light of South Africa's turbulent history.
Susan Opperman has always been fascinated by comic strips. From 2002 to 2007, Opperman studied Fine Arts at the University of Port Elizabeth and gained a Masters degree at Stellenbosch University in 2011. She has since been working on various comics and assignments as a cartoonist, illustrator and artist. Having been exhibited at various locations in South Africa, her work can now be seen for the first time in the Netherlands.
This exhibition is part of a series entitled Kunsthal Light. The programme focuses on creating opportunities for talented artists with an international background or dual nationality. Kunsthal Light is putting the spotlight in particular on modern muralists and urban, graffiti and comic artists. In order to do so, the Kunsthal makes the display window along the museum's front slope available to an artist, who is free to adorn the area as he or she wishes, three times a year and for a period of eight weeks. The glass wall of the display window allows the general public to view the artist's work from outside the museum. Earlier this year, American artist Ben Merris designed a ‘Cave Painting' especially for the first edition, and for the second edition, Spanish artist Nacho Simal created a mural entitled ‘The Pencil of the Crow'.
On Friday 25 November at 3.30 pm, an artist's talk will be held in the form of an interview between Susan Opperman and Gert Jan Pos, former comics intendant at Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture).
Kunsthal Light was made possible thanks to the Fonds BKVB (The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture).