Much like the country of her birth, South Africa, Justine Mahoney’s art maintains a deceptively innocent and calm veneer, meanwhile beneath the surface, it’s anything but. Her latest exhibition, Tainted, a series of 10 bronze sculptures, each with a corresponding collage is currently on show at Southern Guild gallery in Johannesburg. In it, she explores “the ideas of schizophrenia and inner demons, showcasing the different facades of humans, contrasting the light side with the darkness beneath.” Born in 1971 in Johannesburg, she grew up during some of the most tumultuous decades in South African history. Her work is inspired by and reflective of her upbringing in 1970s Johannesburg, and using her own memories as a source of inspiration, she alludes to both innocence and the loss thereof. We caught up with Justine to find out a little more about her, as well as her latest exhibition.

When did your relationship with art begin?

I remember very clearly when I was 3 years old and hospitalized for a bone degenerating disease in my knee (I wore a cast on my leg for that year) and sitting for hours and hours drawing quietly on my own.

You often describe the experience of growing up in South Africa during the 70s, 80s and 90s as extremely schizophrenic. How is that reality reflected in your work?

Imagine growing up in sugar coated suburbia not knowing what lies beyond those walls. That is pure schizophrenia. I think the work itself is extremely schizophrenic with its hack and bash, cut and paste, and the joining together of themes taken from mass and African culture.

 How do you feel your work in Tainted has changed since your last exhibition, Innocence?

With Tainted the veil has been lifted, there is a loss of innocence. The eyes have opened and made to be aware of hardcore reality.

 Please tell us a little bit about the relationship between the collages and the sculptures.

The collages inform where to go next with my sculpture. In the collage process I bring together disparate elements which tell who or what I am dealing with next.

Is there a particular medium you most enjoy working with the most?

My MacBook and Super Earthenware clay are mediums, I love them both equally. The instant satisfaction of bringing together the huge collection of imagery I amass digitally and the basic act of hands-on-clay to ground me.

What are you currently working on?

I am moving between collage and sculpture again on series 3, currently untitled but dealing with intense embellishment, budding sexuality, scarification, ritual and the degradation of consumerism.

On a lighter note, what is on your playlist right now?

I am obsessed with Felix LaBand and FKA Twigs.

Tainted is on show at Southern Guild in Johannesburg until 1 – July – 2017

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