Tom Waits for No Man

The Tom Waits for No Man group exhibition, curated by Gordon Froud, opened at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery.

The scale of the show is immense, with close on a hundred artists participating. Each work is based on the circular format of an LP record. On first impression the exhibition is impressive, but upon closer inspection it quickly becomes apparent that there are only a handful of gems, hidden in amongst some actually rather awful work. Dotted between the multitudes of conceptually poor pieces that resemble matric art student work, are a few works that interestingly and expertly reinterpret or respond to some portion of Waits’ musical influence. These stray beyond the obvious portrait of the singer-songwriter, and delve into the imagery, figures and mood that imbue all of Waits’ music.

The curatorial intention for this exhibition however was to be inclusive rather than exclusive, hence the open call for submissions to over 300 artists. The result of this though, is that the margin for poor work increases. But, the exhibition doesn’t try to be serious, it is what it is, and in that sense, is a success and markedly different from the regular gallery show.

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