The poet and painter Breyten Breytenbach was imprisoned in the 70s for high treason. In this exquisitely produced book, Saayman explores a new approach to this multifaceted artist’s work which was defined by his prison experience. Illustrated by quotes as well as the disquieting drawings and paintings from this period, Saayman’s analysis focuses on the key iconographic signs of Breytenbach’s oeuvre: bird, angel, strings and ropes. She remedies its fragmented reception by attempting to “find a way to look and read at the same time”, and invites us to study the web of meanings the visual and the textual mediations on execution, captivity, and fear of death create in context. They take the “reader and spectator beyond the threshold of easy contemplation” as they confront the horrors of imprisonment and the survival strategies of the artist.
An edited version of this book mark was published in the Cape Times on 4 July 2014, p. 12.
Breyten Breytenbach, A Monologue in Two Voices
by Sandra Saayman
Fourthwall Books, 2014
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