Morné Visagie (b.1989) is a South African artist, printmaker and curator who lives and works in Cape Town. The early years of Visagie’s life (1989–1995) were spent on Robben Island, South Africa, where his father served in the Department of Correctional Services. 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.
Growing up on the Island, the Atlantic Ocean that separated Visagie from the mainland became a recurring theme in his imagination. To this, the colour blue has been the primary medium in his work; a personal symbol of death, loss, nostalgia, memory, religion, sexuality, exile and distance. Visagie engages with the Island’s history as a place of dislocation and loss for those imprisoned there and the sea as a transitional space between life and death. Drawing on personal recollections and collective histories, Visagie’s work offers a meditation on the sea as both a physical and psychological landscape.
To the artist, the delicateness and transparency of tissue paper reference the fragility of the human body. In printmaking, tissue paper has many uses. It protects the printed or inked areas of plates and paper, is used to lift dust from borders, and is laid between prints when stored to prevent one sheet from rubbing against the other. It is also used in soft-ground etching to assist in the transfer of delicate pencil and graphite textures to the ground itself, where it becomes the residue and trace of the mark and image made, before it becomes permanently etched in the metal plate.
The hand-dyed tissue paper, which both absorbs and reflects light from its surroundings, sets the space alight with a glowing iridescent presence. The tones of blue mimic those of a well-maintained public swimming pool or the tiles of a hospital, with panels of aquamarine-green interrupting the blue.
Visagie is a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School, starting 2024.
FOVNTAIN II is part of Liesbet Grupping’s artistic research, supported by the Flemish government and shown in chapters at violet.
Opening on 23 February 2024, from 18:00 to 21:00. The exhibition will run until March 23, 2024. Open on Fridays and Saturdays from 14:00 to 18:00 and by appointment.