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10 Artists Re-Constructing Reality Through Collage

Although the medium of collage relies on what already exists, this doesn’t make it any less imaginative. Using a collection of found or sourced images, collage artists re-arrange the everyday, essentially making up their own reality (or realities) by deciding for themselves how things should look. We’ve rounded up 10 local artists whose work in collage reveals the world we know in new ways. Ways that are surprising, surreal, beautiful, strange, humorous, perplexing, captivating, insightful…the list goes on.  

Julia Rosa Clark

Julia Rosa Clarke (1)  

Julia Rosa Clark’s witty and poignant collages and installations are comprised of elements of “throwaway nostalgia” including scraps of paper and found objects. Her final pieces/spaces are resultant of a lengthy process of collecting, shredding, sorting and altering. “This process is a kind of protective filter,” she says, “a device for coping with an overload of information or emotion. In earlier work, this device helped me to overcome overwhelming new sensations (such as lust or loss) and make visual analogies for these experiences. More recently, the process has opened up a way of navigating the world of information, and re-examining information about the world.” As such, Julia’s works function both to incite personal longing and, to deconstruct cultural truths learned through public education, popular media and family legend.  

Julia Rosa Clarke (4) tumblr_m4hwo003m11qho1yeo1_1280 Julia Rosa Clarke (3) Julia Rosa Clarke (5) Julia Rosa Clarke (2)  


Peter Georgiades

 Peter Georgiades 3  

Peter Georgiades’ crazy good collaging abilities first came to our attention after a shoot he styled for photographer Katja Marr when, using these images, he created a series of collage GIFs. More recently during his spare time at work, Peter has been combining his art directing experience and design sensibility with a little experimentation by remixing his favourite fashion campaigns into weird and wonderful ‘cut and paste’ images. While some of these collages are a surreal mix of dreamlike textures, neon rainbow colours and amorphic shapes, others are more monochromatic, minimalist creations.  

Peter Georgiades Peter Georgiades 4  


Anna Bu Kliewer

Anna Bu Kliewer (1)  

In the reconstructed and unmistakably humorous world of collage artist Anna Bu Kliewer, hamburgers emerge from mustard-yellow landscapes, people are given mushrooms, fire and even nipples for faces, and disembodied limbs float mysteriously in distant lands. Her collages – as unnerving as they are beautiful – play with space and identity, mashing it up, erasing and reconfiguring found imagery into bizarre and fragmented narratives. “I like collage because it is playful and imaginative,” Anna says in a recent interview. “Dreams, fantasies, social and cultural issues can be confronted in an imaginative manner, I can form an abstract reality where time seems to stand still or is flattened. It stays somewhat open in meaning. It suggests, but doesn’t completely clarify, so each viewer can see different stories, symbols, illusions or nothing – due to their own experiences.”  

Anna Bu Kliewer (2) Anna Bu Kliewer (3) Anna Bu Kliewer (4) Anna Bu Kliewer (6) Anna Bu Kliewer (5)  


Jody Paulsen


“I am interested in a combination of things – the surface of luxury goods, the act of shopping, cliches in advertising, collage, dating sites, gay cruising zones, yoga, pop art, celebrity and self-deprecating humour,” says visual artist Jody Paulsen, who incorporates these interests (and countless others) into his signature felt collages. Jody usually works in a kaleidoscope of bright colours, layering interesting shapes to create impressive, textured, almost psychedelic wall pieces that comment on consumerism and the aesthetics of contemporary culture. As another visual output, he’s engaged in an ongoing collaboration with Keith Henning of Adriaan Kuiters and has had a signigicant hand in creating prints for the AW14 and SS15 collections.  

Jody Paulsen (1) Jody Paulsen (3) Jody Paulsen (2) Jody Paulsen (4) Jody Paulsen (5)  


Tony Gum

Tony Gum x The Expressionist (2)  

Inspired by the punchy work of artist Vincent Michea, local creative Tony Gum collaborated with New York based style blogger and photographer Teff the Don (also known as The Expressionist) on a series of digital collages. The fantastic two-part, cross-continental collab is a mash up of Tony’s editing and illustrations together with Teff’s images. “I was given the freedom to do anything,” says Tony, who played around on Photoshop. Rather than trying to control the outcome, she let the magic unfold organically as she went along.

Tony Gum x The Expressionist (3) Tony Gum x The Expressionist (5) Tony Gum x The Expressionist (9) Tony Gum x The Expressionist (7) Tony Gum x The Expressionist (10)  


Dustin van Wyk


Dustin van Wyk made his way onto our radar through the events his collages have been used as posters for. After investigating further we discovered his tumblr titled ‘Nyavani’ and quickly realised the prolific rate at which he produces new collage artworks. Dustin plays with scale and perspective, and his work oscillates between the minimal and the complex – sometimes, a flat coloured backdrop makes up the majority of an image (a level of restraint unusual in collage) but other times, Dustin adds layer upon layer to form an intricate and enchanting tales.  

Dustin van Wyk (2) Dustin van Wyk (3) Dustin van Wyk (5) Dustin van Wyk (4) Dustin van Wyk (6)  


Dylan Culhane

Dylan Culhane 1  

An artist working primarily in photography, Dylan Culhane has been making pictures with cameras for more than half his life. “Heavily influenced by the experimental ethos of Lomography in my formative years, I’ve always retained a fascination with the medium of photography itself, and thrive on exploring its possibilities as an outlet of the imagination,” he says. “Regarding the camera as an alchemic picture-making toy as opposed to a forensic device tends to differentiate my work from standard preconceptions about photography.” Multiple exposures are one way Dylan adds layers to his work, collage another. Using this medium he created a series of 80s-inspired graphic photo collages for the Nothing Else Comes Close group exhibition, and he employed a similar approach when making a cover for the first, self-titled album of Hello Beautiful.  

Dylan Culhane (5) Dylan Culhane (7) Dylan Culhane (3) Dylan Culhane (1) Hello Beautiful Album Art by Dylan Culhane (1)  


Billie Zangewa 

billie_zangewa. The Future Waits for No-one. silk tapestry. 2011.  

At first glance, or from a distance, the intricate tapestries that artist Billie Zangewa creates using silk could be mistaken for oil paintings. Upon closer inspection their unique beauty comes to light as the skilful cuttings and thread work are revealed. Often set in the urban landscapes of Johannesburg, the city which she has called home for the past 17 years, her tapestries seek to explore the female gaze – that is, how a woman sees herself as beautiful through her own eyes. In our Creative Women interview with her, Billie reveals how she arrived at her medium: “I started with drawing and then I was introduced to printmaking, sculpture etc. Later, I had no access to a print press or studio space so it had to be something that I could do anywhere. The limitations led the way. Initially, I was doing small-scale embroideries and then arrived at the narrative based silk tapestry. When I started the tapestries they were graphic and simple. Then they became more detailed and now I am working with a combination. Today, I have a deeper understanding of my medium and am able to be more expressive with it.” 

billie-zangewa-sweet-dreams-silk-tapestry-112x206cm-2010 billie zangewa, loosing dice, silk tapestry, 84x61cm, 2004 billie zangewa, midnight aura, silk tapestry, 100x94 cm, 2012 billie-zangewa-getting-happy-silk-tapestry-102x112cm-2004 Billie Zangewa, 'The Sun Worshipper' (silk tapestry)  


Karin Miller

Karin Miller 'Guess Who'  

Karin Miller has developed a style of digital collage that is at once recognisable as her own. With a background in information design, Karin’s artworks are an eclectic mix of graphic design elements, historic iconography, pop reference and Eastern-esque patterns. Her work playfully explores all the dinner table taboos – race, politics, religion, sex – through a humorous visual language of juxtaposed iconography and appropriated images. “I love the fact that I can take items out of context and place them wherever I want, because life is a collaboration of different points of view,” Karin told us in an interview. “I get nervous when people start believing things from only one side; their side. I feel like we are bombarded with images on a daily basis and collage is a beautiful medium where images can be regrouped and re-evaluated. Historical images should not be forgotten to remind us that nothing is constant. Ideas have changed and they will change again.”

Nutritional-supplies- Karin Miller 'Verwoerd with vuvuzela' Karin Miller 'Keeping good table (pink)' Adam-and-Eve-Arme-Eva18-likes_2 Artwork-girl-holding-flower-option-4-copy_4  


Simnikiwe Buhlungu

Simnikiwe Buhlungu 1  

Portraits of classic, Michelangelo-esque figures find their form through negative space in the collage artworks of Simnikiwe Buhlungu – a multi-disciplinary creative based in Johannesburg, whose repertoire also includes photography, printmaking, painting and illustration. The ghostly figures in her collages emanate a subtle beauty and, as if to test whether or not we’re paying attention, they melt easily into the background or surrounding patterns as soon as we stop focusing intently.  

Simnikiwe Buhlungu 2 Simnikiwe Buhlungu 3 Simnikiwe Buhlungu 4 Simnikiwe Buhlungu 5

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