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10 Questions with Joe Turpin Article Image

10 Questions with Joe Turpin

Posted on 3 November 2022

Joe Turpin is a South African visual artist whose research practice focuses on historically charged narratives and semiotics as expansions of painting. He makes mixed-media installations grounded in painting that create temporal conversations about identity, memory, and history. His Jewish heritage becomes principal and consequential in exploring stories of migration and persecution. These cultural paradigms inform his archival research and artistic production.

"As a multidisciplinary artist, I use archival research to locate narratives, allegories and semiotics that are charged and informed by historical events or mythologies," says Turpin. "These fables influence my current focus on paintings and mixed media installations. I question how these narratives that reflect the past and present, also resonate within a wider social context, initiating forms of activism that bring people together."

Turpin is one of our selected 10 Art.co.za Watch List artists for 2023. The new annual list of the most on-the-rise artists in South Africa features the artists across various media and subject matter who are gained momentum in the past year and who are reaching new heights in their art careers.

If not art, what would you do?

When I was a student I really wanted to study politics and political science.

Where does your inspiration come from?

At the moment it comes from history; culture and the archives.

Joe Turpin, Sitting With Chagall (2021)
Joe Turpin, Sitting With Chagall (2021)

What's your secret obsession?

My car!

Do you have a creative muse?

The angel of history.

Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven't yet?

I think large scale installation art. Filling rooms up!

Favorite time of the day?

I love midday, when the sun can strike you.

Joe Turpin, The Effects of War Are Not a Privilege (2021)
Joe Turpin, The Effects of War Are Not a Privilege (2021)

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can't live without in your studio?

Weirdly enough its foam core/board. I discovered as an undergraduate that it can be an artist's best friend.

Favourite or most inspirational place in South Africa?

Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg.

What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in creating an artwork?

It's making the idea legible; readable; cohesive. I still struggle with that.

What's the best creative advice you've ever received?

Someone told me not to be an apologist, but not be an ignorant either. That the best place is somewhere in between.

View Joe Turpins's work and follow him on Instagram.

Joe Turpin, 'Oy Vey!' (2021)
Joe Turpin, "Oy Vey!" (2021)

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