Artist Ed Young's new exhibit promises to be provocative

Ed Young's art will definitely get you thinking, even if it your thoughts aren't complimentary, writes Paula Andropoulos

06 August 2017 - 00:00 By Paula Andropoulos

Every sphere of influence has its rake, and in the burgeoning world of critically engaged South African art, Ed Young holds the title.
He's ostentatiously offensive, and I'm not sure that I like him. But I'm not sure, necessarily, that I'm supposed to like art, and Young inevitably gets me thinking, even if the things I'm thinking aren't always complimentary.
He is constantly engaged with what it means to be a white South African - and even if I'm regularly contemptuous of his interpretation, I am still grateful that he is willing to offer an interpretation at all.
He is the Heathcliff of the South African art world, which, plainly speaking, translates to "he might be wrong, he might be unattractive, but he is nevertheless making a statement; and the onus is on the recipients of that statement to make intelligent value judgments of his work".
The fact is, even if you hate Young - as many young, radical artists do - art is supposed to make us query the premises of society, even at the expense of the artist, and Young inevitably does just that.
On Thursday, Young premiered Cash or Card at SMAC gallery in Johannesburg. The show will run until September 2, and promises to be as provocative as ever.
Very little concrete information was released about the show before it opened, which was both refreshing and worrying: in any event, we can be sure that the now 39-year-old artist will leave his spectators intellectually grappling with the nature of South African society, irrespective of whether they love him or hate him.

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