Alex Hamilton's Roadtrip
A Cultural Feature

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 6 July 2010
Category: Culture > Features Comments View Comments

Roadtrip, in the words of the artist, is "an exhibition about memory, adventure, landscape, and the car that always broke down on the side of the road". It is running in Cape Town for the whole of July before it moves to other cities in South Africa.

Alex Hamilton's Roadtrip

Cape Town artist Alex Hamilton's latest exhibition, Roadtrip, is a nostalgic meander along South Africa's back roads to nowhere in particular. The collection incorporates representations of iconic road-trip components in mixed-media panels that allude to the contents of mixtapes, towns passed during the journey, fauna and flora glimpsed along the roadside, constellations in the night sky, classic cars one daydreams about driving across a desert, and maps utilised in navigation, all heavily - though not exclusively - influenced by the vistas and foliage of the Karoo. The palette is distinct and comforting - striking blues, muted creams and greens, and subtle black and white highlights - all picked directly from old maps.

Alex Hamilton's RoadtripEach piece in the Roadtrip collection is a one-of-a-kind artwork, unlike the Cast & Crew icons, of which multiple copies have been made and continue to be made, in either the default colour or any colour you choose (if you ask nicely). Most of the Roadtrip pieces are 128x175mm, about double the size of the Cast & Crew collection. Once again the primary focus is a stencilled piece, whether a familiar celebrity face or a Karoo icon (windmills, aloes, an ostrich, the baobab tree), with old road maps, star charts, music scores forming the secondary focus.

Music icons from the Cast & Crew collection, which I explored in my November 2008 interview with Alex, make appearances in Roadtrip: Mixtape 1 comprises pop, rock, and folk legends; Mixtape 2 is primarily classical composers; and Mixtape 3 is a collection of 80s superstars. All three are larger panels comprising 20 icons. Thelma and Louise (and JD) each appear in their own 128x175mm work (superimposed on what I think are elevation maps), as do characters from Easy Rider.

The largest panels, at roughly 960x1050mm, comprise old (original) maps, collaged, each with a classic car stencilled on top. Much like the repurposed vinyl records in Alex's Afrotize series, I had mixed feelings about these particular pieces, as I consider maps to be sacred objects, and old maps even moreso. At the same time, one's reaction to them is interesting. Your natural instinct is to get in close, touch the towns, trace the lines of the roads... and you find youself stopping just in time as you realise that this is no longer a map, it is a piece of art that usually one is forbidden to caress, lest an indelible mark is left and the work is forever tarnished.

Alex Hamilton's Roadtrip

Meanwhile, Alex's collection of Cast & Crew icons and iconography, which has become an ongoing project, continues to grow and now numbers over 1400. Some of the newer faces include Yolandi and Ninja from Die Antwoord; 007s, Bond girls, and bad guys from the James Bond movies; and (so far) five of the seven Endless characters from Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series of graphic novels. The blocks make excellent gifts and if someone - or something - you want isn't yet represented, just ask. Alex will do the research, make the stencil, and add it to the collection.

Alex Hamilton's Roadtrip

Alex Hamilton's Roadtrip is on display at his studio in Woodstock, Cape Town, until the end of the month. Then it moves to Johannesburg, and finally Knysna, possibly with new pieces in the collection. Although each artwork is a one-of-a-kind piece, you can commission new works based on the series if there is a combination of specific stencil you like, map or constellation you prefer (subject to them being available), and collection-based colour scheme you wish to see combined.

Key Facts Share/Bookmark
Where: Alex Hamilton Art Studio, Unit 203, 2nd Floor, Back Building, Woodstock Industrial Centre, 66-68 Albert Road, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa [ map ] (secure parking is available in William Street)
When: 1 July 2010 to 30 July 2010
Phone: +27 21 447 2396
Prices: From R450 [?]
Official Site: Alex Hamilton

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Cast & Crew: An Interview With South African Artist Alex Hamilton About His Exhibition Of Pop-Culture Icons
In an era of all-consuming mass media that craves and divides our attention, reality TV that increasingly scrapes the bottom of the barrel for shock value and ratings, and suspect role models made famous by the Internet, what is truly important to us? What gives us meaning? What do we relate to? How do we now define ourselves? Alex Hamilton's Cast & Crew exhibition presents 1000 icons of our modern times, from artists and musicians to politicians, media stars, and religious figures, and asks us to decide for ourselves.
By: Mandy J Watson  |  Posted: 18 November 2008  |  View Comments
Category: Culture > Features

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