Something was up in Johannesburg's art scene. Form just wasn't coping with context. The cultural boycott, always painful, was really starting to hurt. Political niceties couldn't cut it anymore, and Barker was one of the new kids on the block.

The new kids - including a brace of artists and theatrical types emerging from Cape Town - were steadily being marginalised. They weren't sure they trusted their ideas in the hands of academic institutions, and had developed a distaste for the same old commercial galleries housed in leafy suburbs. Not that invitations to exhibit were particularly forthcoming - to this day Barker has never shown at the terribly important Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg. Its polite exigencies were part of the same forces that turned him into a tennis court and called up the ghost of Charlie Chaplin. Like some sort of pre-millennial Rimbaud, the Barker who turned up at Important Gallery Openings would enjoy the free booze and then take off all his clothes and rugby tackle the artists.

"I thought the art was really bad. It was old. Like any 24-year-old I thought I was onto something fresher."

Apart from the burgeoning multicultural scene at the Market Theatre complex downtown, the party sucked. So the kids decided to try and throw their own. The next few years would see the rise of Gallant House, the Black Sun theatre and Barker's own Famous International Gallery, more modestly known as Fig.

The Bad Art Attacks

Wayne Barker: Artist's Monograph
Vienna Calling
60's Suburbia
Johnny Rottenism
Anyone for Tennis?
Fourteen Days in Hell
The Bad Art Attacks
The Famous Five do Downtown
Fragments of a Murder
Have you Hugged a Fascist Today?
Landscape with Target
Blood Money
Le Monde a L'envers
Bigotry on a Stick
The Heart of Neon
Divorce in Paradise
The South African Thing
Storming the Ramparts
The Wax Hand
A Love Story
Frankfurt in Latex
The Talking Curio
Back to Basics
Dirty Laundry
A New Kind of Freedom
Photo Credits & Works