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Boy with toy gun (2010)

Rhinestones, semi-precious stones, metallic and neon acrylic paints, and oil paint on board, 180 x 122 cm

My toddler sons and their mates are rhinestone cowboys. They are easily enticed by flashing, over-sculpted, brittle, plastic toy guns, never anywhere else fabricated than in China. They play with it at home, at friends’ houses, at crèches and they regularly watch real guns rapidly blasting about on screen. Toy guns work on all the senses. Kids stare at them in its random multi-colourplicity displayed in exciting crazy stores, showcased in a picture box portraying an universal adventure. They pull the triggers, continuously banging these cheapish cacophonist poppers.

What does the South African child know of the violence present? With the ridiculously high crime rate there is a reasonably good chance that a child did have an, or will experience an act of violence. But many children are also peculiarly cocooned, almost jailed in, in middle class houses, protected from poverty. Suburban kids act out manga brawls for smashing good animated fun. Aggression becomes playful projection. Some parents argue that toy guns have a limited impact on harbouring aggression. Violence somehow operates in two worlds, between the bloody, torturous, murderous, post-traumatic stress South African real worlds and the mass-media realities that render attractive, make-believing pretence. Violence is cool and in Bloemfontein there is an increasing emergence of middle-class scary, kids gangs operating in boring suburbs.

My painting portrays my son Indigo as a dude. He and his toy gun melt away. I have blinged the gun with rhinestones, and intermixed it with authentic semi-precious stones. The real stones is a skimpy reminiscence of the motif of many historic repetitive fights on earth . Big boys kill with real guns to source what’s underneath. In the painting the gun goes off. The stones shatter gracefully over Indigo’s ice cream image.

Thresholds: Violence, geognostic eye (natural pigments, paintboxes), chemically fabricated paints (neon, glitter)