When Love Be­comes Art

SLOW Magazine - - Editor's Choice -

The leg­end of artis­tic reclu­sive­ness holds an al­lure for those who ap­pre­ci­ate fine art, and who be­lieve in the no­tion that an artist is an or­a­cle whose ge­nius must be pro­tected from the world. As the bound­aries of mod­ern pri­vate life dis­solve, and the space for soli­tary re­flec­tion shrinks, the nat­u­ral vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the artist is pro­jected onto can­vas.

Vis­ual artists are un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure to un­der­stand that be­ing re­moved from the world, in an era in which even Banksy is on Twit­ter, is an un­com­mon lux­ury that few can af­ford. How­ever, some seem to tran­scend the pres­sures of as­pir­ing to com­mer­cial suc­cess to cap­ture each mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion in their work. Renowned con­tem­po­rary artist, Munro, is one such artist whose work raises an un­feigned mir­ror to in­no­cently re­flect an anx­ious jour­ney from Bushveld boy­hood to cre­ative ge­nius.

Of­fi­cially, Munro’s story be­gan in 1998 when a mo­ment of di­vine in­spi­ra­tion steered him in a new di­rec­tion and pro­vided him with a new name. In re­al­ity, how­ever, art and artis­tic ex­pres­sion were a part of Munro’s life from an early age, and he found his ex­pres­sive­ness in many var­ied forms. “My life as an artist be­gan when I was young, when I started ex­per­i­ment­ing with wood, clay, dried organic ma­te­ri­als, be­fore pro­gress­ing to colour on can­vas,” Munro says. “Grow­ing up in the home I did gave me lit­tle to no scope in any artis­tic di­rec­tion, and it looked like my life was set out for me from the start. Most of my grow­ing up hap­pened in the then small town of El­lis­ras, now Lepha­lale, at the far north­ern end of South Africa, sur­rounded by end­less bushveld and all that came with it. An­gry men and ro­bust tan­nies were the or­der of those days, and find­ing a kind heart big enough to nur­ture a ten­der soul seemed be­yond rea­son.”

In­spired by one of his teach­ers, whom the artist de­scribes as hav­ing “nur­tured back a dy­ing twig to a liv­ing branch”, Munro says that he of­ten wonders what his life would have been like with­out her kind­ness. Hav­ing es­caped the small town that he grew up in, and fol­low­ing a dis­as­trous ex­pe­ri­ence at univer­sity, Munro joined the army. There he spent “two wasted years” in a sys­tem that cared lit­tle for life, and even less for artis­tic ex­pres­sion. This ex­pe­ri­ence brought se­vere in­tro­spec­tion, and a re­ju­ve­nated de­sire to be cre­ative. Ex­pres­sion now ar­rived in the form of sculp­ture, with var­i­ous met­als be­ing Munro’s cho­sen medium. “I started play­ing with paint on can­vas and even­tu­ally, af­ter de­cid­ing to quit us­ing brushes al­to­gether, came the new name and the use of build­ing trow­els as ap­pli­ca­tors. This caused a flurry of in­ter­est and trans­fig­ured me from an un­known strug­gling artist into a house­hold name, vir­tu­ally overnight.”

As the art mar­ket slowly yet ir­re­versibly be­gan fall­ing in love with Munro’s work,

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