Wayne Barker was travelling. The bulk of 1997 would be spent drifting back and forth between various corners of the globe, often without spending money, always with one eye on his muse. He had returned home to a country embroiled in criminal violence and a government struggling to implement socio-economic reforms. "I was dislocated," he says. "I had no home and no studio. Eventually I moved into what became the new Fig in Troyeville." After a few months he left for a dismal spell exhibiting in Australia - a country which only enhanced his sense of cultural alienation - before returning home.

All Washed up in Africa
Appropriately enough, Barker's next series was called All Washed Up in Africa, starting its life as All Washed Up in South Africa at the new Hanel Gallery in Cape Town. Because he could only afford drawing paper, Barker produced a highly popular range of charcoal drawings. He would return to these whenever he was without resources, reclaiming a certain throwaway expressionism that had marked his work a decade before.

In fact, the chaos of transition was bringing a kind of entropic order to his work. Another lifelong theme that was resurfacing was his use of washing powder logos, an idea he would take way beyond pop silkscreens of Omo boxes by the end of the year.

Waiting for Barker on his return from Cape Town was an invitation by IFAS, the French Institute of South Africa, to take up a residency to study a post-graduate degree in Marseilles.

Installed in a studio at La Frische - "which is a massive cultural centre, like a market" - under the tutorship of renowned French sculptor Toni Grand and with a bicycle for transport, Barker began working furiously on three simultaneous projects. One was the 1997 Africus Biennale, another was his second solo at the Frankfurt Hanel and the third was the huge Fin de Siecle/End of the Century show in Nantes.

Back to Basics

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