Morné Visagie obtained his Masters in Fine Art in 2019 from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. He is the co-founder of Art Gazette, an alternative online art platform for curating international collections of art, and the curator for OPEN24HRS, a non-commercial gallery space in Cape Town.
The first years of his life (1989 – 1995) were spent on Robben Island, South Africa. While it was a safe place for children to wander freely, a suburban idyll of sorts, it was a prison to many of its residents. Apartheid South Africa, however, was coming undone – soon prisoners would leave and so too would the children. The year 1994 was the start of new beginnings on the mainland: for the warders and their families who lived on the Island; and for the many political prisoners who had been exiled there.
“I do not recall when I first realised the historical weight that my childhood island carried, and the fate it promised for many people who were banished there. Innocent family photos of birthday parties and days spent by the swimming pool are haunted by the realities of the time. The enormity of the Island’s violent past exists alongside my personal relationship to that burdened space; it is the unspoken presence in much of my work as in my memories.”
The Atlantic Ocean that separated Visagie from the mainland became a recurring metaphor in his imagination, and for the past decade, the colour blue has been the primary medium in his work; a personal symbol of death, loss, nostalgia, memory, religion, sexuality, exile and distance.