Tiger Maremela, also known under their performance alias “A Very Cool Time”, is a Johannesburg artist using art, technology and magic to unpack societal structures.
“Every Day Is A Ritual” is a body of abstract and thought-provoking paintings that delve into the supernatural. The title of the collection reflects on, in the artist’s words, “the neutrality of mundane spiritual or superstitious acts, from sprinkles of salt thrown over the shoulder, incantations to mark specific moments in time, to the ingestion of organic matter in a bid for physical, and metaphysical restoration.”
Maremela says that their theme, “the idea of magic, witchcraft and the supernatural is such a broad topic; hotly debated and quite thought provoking”. As such, the collection focuses on character-based work, rather than making judgments or casting aspersions, the 34 artworks take the viewer into an Alighieri-esque dive into a study of the occult. This layered experience, through the use of composite images, colours and designs, is given depth through Maremela’s tact and allusions to history, sociology and politics
“I wanted to identify key ideas, by breaking it down into different series that either focused on a character or a particular phenomenon, allowed me to take the viewer through the journey in bite-size pieces.”
The collection comprises of seven separate series; Isilwane; Beast Boy; Even This Is A Deathly Flower; Ghostly/Ghastly; Predator Disguised as a Priest; Dream Landscapes;and Rubble/Rumble/Rapture. These “chapters” within the narrative of witchcraft and superstition each unpack the societal, social, political and presence of supernatural constructs and ideas. The deeply personal nature of the work, reflections of Maremela’s personal experience as well as stories from their family, are extended to the viewer. One cannot help but relate, reflect on, or project their own feelings, stories and experiences with the “other side” onto the body of work; whether those views are believing, cynical or ambivalent.
However, the beauty and artistry of the stand-out prints suffer from the claustrophobia of the narrative. That may be the point, though, as the richly articulate Maremela does not seem like one to entertain mediocrity, instead utilising saturation and same-ness to propel his exploration. As much is true in their reasoning behind their art, saying, “as an artist, I try to break down and understand processes and constructs. My intention as an artist, is trying to understand the motivations that human beings have, but also then the political and organisational underpinnings of it all, and communicate it to an audience.”
The result is striking and profound, prints with intricacies and representations collaged in a composition of acrylics, oil, found materials and digital manipulation. The collection, despite Maremela’s personal experiences and subjectivities, works as a blank slate to project one’s own biases onto. He says that, “through all of my introspection and research, the one thing that I kept coming back to was that magic, witchcraft and the supernatural are really neutral forces. It's not black and white, but what really then determines whether something is good magic or evil magic is a person's intent”.
“Even though it’s a sale catalogue, I wanted to avoid a catalogue that was just purely image based, having the viewer establish an emotional connection to the ideas and the subject matter. Using the words as equally as the art was important for this collection.”
• The catalogue includes the details of 34 artworks and two promotional prints produced through painting, collage, and digital manipulation. All artwork is signed, dated and numbered by the artist.