Awesome to see Lawrence Lemaoana's work on the front page of Mail&Guardian. Lemaoana's art is satirical, quirky and shrewdly captures the zeitgeist of the South African psyche. He's obsessed with Zuma (aren't we all) and explains his fascination with the man in M&G:
"I look at Zuma as what I call an 'old masculine' living in contemporary times. The 'old masculine' figure is really about an outmoded construct of masculinity, which, in Zuma's case, still asserts its power today."
Zuma features in Lemaoana's work alternatively as struggle comrade (fist raised) as a member of a rugby team, as a rapper as well as a saint. Lemaoano deals a lot with the issue of masculine power in his work. He says: “My background of playing the game of rugby influences my work, looking closely at the stereotypical masculine figure. For various reasons such as the history of our country, our social and economical positions in a ever changing world I was forced to question my own identity as a young black individual. I had to then realise that all things are not seen with the innocence of a child, that the past always a strong bearing on our future and that in the deconstruction of my one kind of masculinity another and different one is constructed. I carefully select fabrics that create a sense of irony. My use of material attempts to subvert popular associations with my subject matter. In so doing I attempt to amend a very passionate experience ... a death of a dream.
In my work I try to move the energy of a negative experience in making as much as possible beautiful works that are also positive and rich with depth. I move between the real world and the super real world where all that is within it are within my control. Hence, the construction of my alter ego pink rugby player. For me this alter ego breaks boundaries in that he does what not many male figures are afraid to confront. The view that “all men are equal but some are more equal than others”. Therefore playing with the complexities of inferiority.
Also I use humour as a tool and weapon. Although my subject is a serious one those kinds of elements add flavour that is very much needed in these days of metro-sexual men where the lines of masculinities and femininities are constantly being eroded and even challenged. Idealism is another modern day issue that I attempt to grapple with. For example, we have preconceived norms about social positions of individuals in society, idealistically, and that is what I challenge head on in my work.”