This piece is my 2018 submission for the Hermanus FynArts - 2018 Tondo Competition. The 2018 theme for this exciting competition is "Vintage"
For me personally, the concept of "vintage" relates strongly to objects and images from the past, that has made a re-appearance in contemporary culture. These objects and images often carry great sentimental value and for younger generations often represent periods in living memory that they didn't experience. This notion can be seen in the resurrgence of products like vinyl records. A booming market of new and re-released records consumed mainly by a generation of millennials, who crave a more tactile experience of their world.
It took me a while to find an object or image that I could claim as my own "vintage," untill I stumbled upon a print of Bragolin's The Crying Boy at a local weekend market. This image transported me back almost 40 years to a time when, in comparison to today, the world was built completely differently. We had this exact print in our childhood bedroom circa 1982, hung against an olive green wall that my mother carefully matched to the colours of the print.
I remember this print disappearing from the house around 1985 and vagely remember my mother muttering something about it being cursed. These memory flashes fueled by sentiment and the excitement of finding an object that re-connected me to a part of my life long forgotten encouraged me to do some research on this piece.
Excerts from a most enlightning article I found about this piece:
'The Crying Boy' was one of a series of paintings by artist Giovanni Bragolin completed in the 1950s. The series depicted young teary-eyed children. In total Bragolin painted over sixty paintings and up until the early eighties the prints and reprints of his images, continued to be mass produced. In 1985 the most popular tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom, printed a story that was to cause panic and end the popularity of Bragolin's work. 'The Sun' published an article entitled 'Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy'. The story described the terrible experience of May and Ron Hall after their Rotherham home was destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire was a chip pan that overheated and burst into flames. The fire spread rapidly and destroyed everything on the ground floor. Only one item remained intact, a print of 'The Crying Boy' on their living room wall. Distraught at their loss, the devastated couple made the bizarre claim that the painting was cursed and it, not the chip pan, was the cause of the fire.
Many more cases were reported, where the painting of 'The Crying Boy' remained unharmed. Eventually, if there was an image of a crying child by any artist in a house that went on fire, the painting was blamed. Some claimed that they experienced bad luck if they attempted to destroy or get rid of their paintings. Others were convinced that it was only a matter of time before disaster struck them. After printing more articles and scare stories, 'The Sun' offered a frightened public a solution. On Halloween 1985, hundreds of the paintings were collected together by the newspaper and burnt under the supervision of the Fire Brigade.
The bizarre history of this painting, resonates with the current theme in my work: Anomalies. I've reproduced the image incorporating elements that visually relate to computer glitches, crop circles and more. The idea is to combine imagery that would be typical of paranormal investigations (the sort of "proof" often offered up by paranormal researchers in popular TV shows like Ghost Hunters) with this vintage image.
It draws a parallel between the "vintage" superstition attached to Bragolin's painting and our current interest with the paranormal. The piece also conceptually touches on the idea of "Fake News" and how misinformation can fuel superstition and vice versa.
This artwork has not been included in any exhibitions.