BRETT MURRAY

BIOGRAPHY

Brett Murray

(b. 1961, South Africa)

Transgressive ideas and imagery push and shift boundaries and, if effectively used and charged, can result in cathartic understandings and fresh reflections. Works and ideas that divide and challenge are interesting to me. I am drawn to this thin edge of the wedge, but not exclusively. 

In reflecting on what is unfolding, I hope to articulate a very personal understanding and an idiosyncratic psychological sense of place, and begin to describe who I am with this anomalous vision. Paradoxically, through this critique and comic exposure, I actually begin to define a preferred ideal in which I would like to live. 

I think we live in interesting times, where conversations are becoming more and more polarised and the rights and the wrongs of your political positions are becoming more difficult to define, and there’s a big grey area in the middle. Often what an artist can do is prick holes in that divide and I think some of my work does sometimes do that – and it’s potentially uncomfortable.

I continue to feel the urge to expose the absurdities of the powerful through satire.  Through my work I hope to explore my jaundiced love/hate relationship with South Africa’s unfolding democracy. 

Brett Murray studied at the University of Cape Town, where he was awarded his Masters of Fine Arts degree in 1988 with distinction. The title of his dissertation was ‘A Group of Satirical Sculptures Examining Social and Political Paradoxes in the South African Context’. As an undergraduate, he won Irma Stern Scholarships in both 1981 and 1982. He won the Simon Garson Prize for the most promising student in 1982 and was awarded the Michaelis Prize in 1983. As a postgraduate student, he received a Human Sciences Research Council bursary, a University of Cape Town Research Scholarship, the Jules Kramer Grant and an Irma Stern Scholarship.

He has exhibited extensively in South Africa and abroad. From 1991 to 1994, he established the sculpture department at the University of Stellenbosch, where he curated the show ‘Thirty Sculptors from the Western Cape’ in 1992. In 1995, he curated, with Kevin Brand, ‘Scurvy’, at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town. That year he co-curated ‘Junge Kunst Aus Zud Afrika’ for the Hänel Gallery in Frankfurt, Germany.

In 1999, Brett co-founded, with artists and cultural practitioners Lisa Brice, Kevin Brand, Bruce Gordon, Andrew Putter, Sue Williamson, Robert Weinek and Lizza Littlewort, ‘Public Eye’, a Section 27 company that manage and initiate art projects in the public arena with the aim of developing a greater profile for public art in Cape Town. They have initiated projects on Robben Island, worked with the cities health officials on aids awareness campaigns and initiated outdoor sculpture projects, including ‘The Spier Sculpture Biennale’. He curated ‘Homeport’ in 2001, which saw 15 artists create site-specific text-based works in Cape Town’s waterfront precinct. Public Eye have interfaced with cultural funding bodies as consultants and hosted multi-media events across the city.

Murray was included on the Cuban Biennial of 1994, and subsequently his works were exhibited at the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art in Germany. He was included on the group show, ‘Springtime in Chile’, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile. He was also part of the travelling show ‘Liberated Voices, Contemporary Art from South Africa’, which opened at the Museum for African Art in New York in 1998. His work formed part of the shows ‘Min(d)fields’ at the Kunsthaus in Baselland, Switzerland, in 2004, and ‘The Geopolitics of Animation‘ at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville, Spain, in 2007. He won the Cape Town Urban Art competition in 1998, which resulted in the public work ‘Africa’, a 3.5 metre bronze sculpture, being erected in Cape Town’s city centre.

Marray was nominated as the Standard Bank Young Artist of the year in 2002. He won, with Stefaans Samcuia, the commission to produce an 8 x 30 meter wall sculpture for the foyer of the Cape Town International Convention Centre in 2003. In 2007, he completed ‘Specimens’, a large wall sculpture for the University of Cape Town’s medical school campus. In 2011, he produced the public artwork ‘Seeds’ for The University of Bloemfontein and in 2013 he was commissioned to produce the 7 meter bronze ‘Citizen’ for the Auto & General Park in Johannesburg.

 

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2019
Hide, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2017
Again Again, Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2015
Again Again, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2012    
Hail to The Thief II, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2010     
Hail to The Thief, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

2009     
Crocodile Tears II, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2007     
Crocodile Tears, The Goodman Gallery Cape, Cape Town, South Africa

2006     
Sleep Sleep, The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, SA and João Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

2003     
Us and Them, Axis Gallery, New York, USA 

2002     
Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year Award exhibition, White Like Me,
National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa 
King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth, South Africa 
Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 
Durban Art Gallery, Durban, South Africa 
Johannes Stegman Art Gallery, Bloemfontein, South Africa 
South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  
2001     
Hero, Bell-Roberts Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa 

2000     
I love Africa, Bell-Roberts Contemporary, Cape Town , SA and The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
  
1997     
Own, Hänel Gallery, Cape Town, SA and The Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 

1996     
Brett Murray: New Sculptures, Gallery Frank Hänel, Frankfurt, Germany
White Boy Sings the Blues, Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 

1989
Satirical Sculptures, Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2017     
Bronze, Steel & Stone, Everard Read, London, UK

2016     
Opening Exhibition, Everard Read, London, UK

2015     
56th InternationalArt Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, South African Pavilion, Italy
Slow Violence, Stellenbosch University Art Gallery, South Africa 

2014     
Cape Town Art Fair, Goodman Gallery, South Africa 
Design Days Dubai, Southern Guild, UAE

2013     
C-16: A Group Exhibition, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
My Joburg, La Maison Rouge, Paris, France
Art Basel Hong Kong, Goodman Gallery, China
Collectable South African Design, Collective.1 Design Fair, New York, USA
Cloud 9, Dean Projects, Kuwait City, Kuwait
Design Days Dubai, Southern Guild, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 
Editions, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
et.al, Nirox Projects, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Heavy Metal, Southern Guild, Cape Town, South Africa 
The Armory Show, Goodman Gallery, New York, USA
Art Palm Beach, Dean Projects, Florida, USA
The Loom of the Land, Michael Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Summer Show, Casa Labia Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

2012     
Art Miami, Dean Projects, USA
Art Basel Miami, Goodman Gallery, USA
Spring Show, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Sensing the Subject, A selection of Piet Viljoen’s art collection, The New Church. Curated by Penny Siopis, Cape Town, South Africa 
The Art of Banking: celebrating through collections, Standard Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa 
FIAC, Paris, France
Johannesburg Art Fair, Goodman Gallery, South Africa 
Our Fathers, AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Recollect, Southern Guild, The Woodstock Foundry, Cape Town, South Africa 

2011     
Impressions From South Africa,1965 to Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
Thinking Around, Tokara, Stellenbosch, South Africa 
Art Basel Miami, Goodman Gallery, USA
A Natural Selection: 1991-2011, The AVA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Southern Guild 2011, Johannesburg Art Fair, South Africa 
Persona, Johans Borman Fine Art, Cape Town, South Africa 
The Johannesburg Art Fair, Goodman Gallery, South Africa 
Editions, Goodman Gallery Projects, Arts On Main, Johannesburg, South Africa 
The Armory Show, Goodman Gallery, New York, USA


2010     
Art Basel Miami, Goodman Gallery, USA
The Lie of the Land: Representations of the South African Landscape, Iziko Michaelis Collection, Cape Town, South Africa 
Divisions: Aspects of South African Art 1948 -2010, SMAC Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa 
In Other Words, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Halakasha, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Winter Show, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Twenty - South African Sculpture of the Last Two Decades, Nirox Sculpture Park, Gauteng, South Africa 
1910 to 2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Spier Contemporary, Cape Town City Hall, South Africa 

2009   
The Marks We Make, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Strengths and Convictions: The life and times of the South African Peace Prize Laureates, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa  
Dada South? Exploring Dada legacies in South African art 1960 to the present, The South African National Gallery, Curated by Roger van Wyk and Kathryn Smith, Cape Town, South Africa 
Registration, Joao Ferreira Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Forward March, Spier, Stellenbosch, South Africa 
Words!, AVA, Cape Town, South Africa 
Life Less Ordinary, Djanogly Art Gallery, Lakeside Arts Centre, University Park, Nottingham, UK
The Other Mainstream II, Selections from the Collection of Mikki and Stanley Weithorn Arizona State University Art Museum
Johannesburg Art Fair, The Goodman Gallery, South Africa 
Nirox Foundation Outdoor Sculpture, Gauteng, South Africa 

2008     
Johannesburg Art Fair, The Goodman Gallery, South Africa 

2007     
Lift Off II, Goodman Gallery Cape, Cape Town, South Africa 
Cape 07 Biennale, Cape Town, South Africa 
Turbulence, HANGAR-7, Salzburg, Austria 
The Geopolitics of Animation, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville, Spain 

2006     
Art Basel Miami, The Goodman Gallery, Miami, USA

2005     
Art Basel, The Goodman Gallery booth, Basel, Switzerland
Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa 
Imprints, Axis Gallery, New York, USA 

2004     
Post Pop, Moja Modern, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Min(e)dfields, Kunsthaus Basseland, Switzerland
Identity, Fortis Circus Theatre, Scheveningen, Holland
A Decade of Democracy, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 

2003     
Literally and Figuratively: Text and Image in South African Contemporary Art, Michael Stevenson Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa 
Absolutely/Perhaps, Simon Mee Fine Arts, London, UK 
Mettle and Paint, Mettle Headquarters, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Retreks, Video projections, Fotographins Haus, Stockholm, Sweden 
Space Repurposed, Red Bull Music Academy, Cape Town, South Africa 
Art City, Cell-C, Johannesburg, SA ‘Picnic’, Bell-Roberts Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa 

2002     
Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa, The University of Arizona Museum of Art, curated by Frank Herreman. Tucson, Arizona, USA 
I.D./Ology, Axis Gallery, New York, USA
Con/Text, Axis Gallery, New York, USA
Broadcast Quality: The Art of Big Brother, SABC TV, South Africa 

2001     
Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa, The Iris & B.Gerald Cantor Centre for Visual Arts at Stanford University, California, USA. Curated by Frank Herrema
World Wide Video Festival, Amsterdam, Holland
Body: Rest and Motion, Oudtshoorn Festival, South Africa  

2000     
Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa, The Austin Museum of Art, curated by Frank Herreman, Austin, Texas, USA
Cast, Bronze Age Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Retreks: How the other half…, Animated Video Projection, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Collaboration, Bell-Roberts Contemporary, CapeTown, South Africa 
Returning The Gaze, Cape Town One City Festival, South Africa 

1999     
Visit, Natal Society of the Arts, Durban, South Africa 
Liberated Voices: Contemporary Art from South Africa, Museum for African Art, New York, USA
New Worlds: Contemporary Art from Australia, Canada and South Africa, Canada House, London, UK (Toured: Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Canada; Johannesburg Art Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa: Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.) 

1997     
Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, re-launch, South Africa 
Fin de Siecle, Lyon, France 
Cologne Art Fair, Germany: Gallery Frank Hänel booth 
30 Minutes, Robben Island Museum, Cape Town, South Africa 
District Six Public Sculpture Project, Cape Town, South Africa  
Smokkel, 2nd Johannesburg Biennale Fringe, South Africa  

1996     
Vita Art Now, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa 
New Sculptures, Gallery Frank Hänel, Frankfurt, Germany 
Anima-L: Der Mensch im Tier - Das tier im Mensch, Eislingen Kunstverrein, Germany 
Cologne Art Fair, Germany: Gallery Frank Hänel 
Groundswell, Mermaid Theatre, London, UK

1995     
The Laager, Johannesburg Biennale, South Africa  
Scurvy, The Castle, Cape Town, South Africa 
The Scurvy Show, Newtown Galleries, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Venice Bienalle, Malcome Payne’s installation, Italy 
Spring time in Chile, Museum of Contemporary Art, Santiago, Chile 
Junge Kunst Aus Zud Afrika, Gallerie Frank Haenel, Frankfurt, Germany 
Panoramas of Passage: Changing Landscapes - South Africa, Albany Museum, Grahamstown, South Africa 
Frankfurt Art Fair, Gallery Haenel, Germany
Art Cologne, Gallery Haenel, Germany 

1994     
Banquet, Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
5th Cuban Biennale, Wilfredo Lam Museum, Havana, Cuba 
Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Germany 
Contemporary Art from South Africa, Deutsche Aerospace Gallery, Otobrun, Germany
Exit, Metlife Association Of Art, Cape Town, South Africa 
Staff Exhibition, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 

1993     
Vita Art Now, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa 
Volkskas Competition, Metlife Association Of Arts, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannseburg, South Africa 
Aids, Metlife Association of Arts, Cape Town, South Africa 
Limits Of Liberty, Wits Theatre, Weekly Mail Anti-Censorship Axhibition, Johannesburg, South Africa 

1992     
Volkskas Competition, Metlife Association Of Arts, Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannseburg, South Africa 
Staff Exhibition, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa 
Other Visibility, Newtown Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Curator of 40 Sculptors From The Western Cape, Stellenbosch University, South Africa 

1991     
Passages and Transitions, Newtown Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 
B and B with Barend De Wet, Association of Art, Cape Town, South Africa 

1990     
Vita Art Now, Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa 

1988     
Art and Militarism, Michaelis Gallery, University of Cape Town, South Africa 

1986     
About Time, Towards a Peoples Culture Cultural Festival, University of Cape Town. Banned by the Apartheid State, South Africa 
Art For Peace, Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa 
1985     
Group Show for the opening of ‘Gallant House’ club and art center, Johannesburg, South Africa 

1984     
Aches and Pains, Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa 

PUBLIC COLLECTIONS:

Iziko, South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa 
Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa 
Durban Art Gallery, South Africa 
Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa 
University of Cape Town, South Africa 
University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa 
University of Bloemfontein, South Africa 
Sandton Municipality, Johannesburg, South Africa 
DirectAxis Collection, Cape Town, South Africa 
BHP Billiton Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa 
MTN Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Sasol Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa 
South African Breweries, Johannesburg, South Africa 
South African Broadcasting Corporation, Johannesburg, South Africa 
The South African Reserve Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Vodacom Collection, Cape Town, South Africa 
Nando’s Art Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa 
Sindika Dokolo African Collection of Contemporary Art, Luanda, Angola
Red Bull, Salzburg, Austria 
Collection of Mikki and Stanley Weithorn, USA
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, USA
The New Church Museum, Cape Town, South Africa