In a somewhat questionable marketing endeavour, the Eastern Cape Region has been sign posted, ‘Frontier Country’ and indeed this is what it is. Historically it is the site of the 9 Frontier Wars and much brutal conflict and living here presently can still seem the edge of nowhere by comparison to many major South African metropols. With Grahamstown at the heart of it, it is also a cosmopolitan space not without vestiges of past pain but - like many colonial outposts in a post-colonial time - it is no longer a satellite to an absent motherland, a mere microcosm of elsewhere, but also a world unto itself.

A potential space of intellectual, debate rather than military conflict – geographically isolated from metropolitan trends – a melting pot of many places, a crucible. In more recent history, this frontier space has been a site of culture, of experiment. Home to an annual arts festival, how is it that Grahamstown with a population of just under 140 000 can command so much creative imagination in novels, plays, poetry and art? Frontier, Border, at the end of the world but not about to fall off – merely at a vantage point to observe a view to come.
- Rat Western

DISCHARGE 2012             COLOUR COLLOQUIUM 2010             SYNTHETIC DIRT 2011

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

‘Fading From History: The Print Culture of Vladimir Tretchikoff and its Legacy’ by Andrew Lamprecht

This paper will examine the manner in which Vladimir Tretchikoff used mass-produced prints as a vehicle publicise his work as well as to take it to markets outside the usual channels of ‘high art’. Dubbed ‘The King of Kitsch’ by some of his critics, he nonetheless created a new aesthetic which drew praise (and purchases) from ordinary middle- and lower class audiences who would not buy another artwork in their life.

The significance of colour and its application to subjects both everyday and extraordinary is of considerable significance here. Today we tend to be familiar only with faded vestiges of the prints bought in unprecedented numbers in the 1950s – 70s but these works were suffused with colour at a time when critically acclaimed South African art frequently tended towards the dung colours in their palette.

An examination of significance of these ubiquitous prints to popular culture both in the time they were first marketed and subsequently as a trope will conclude the paper.

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