Joe Turpin

Image: from Workers Series, 2017 –Indian ink on paper, 297mm x 420mm, (ongoing project with Migrant Series), courtesy of the artist.


Introducing Joe Turpin (b. 1995, Johannesburg, South Africa), one of the artists participating in New Poetics of Labor 2018.

Turpin is a Johannesburg based South African/British visual artist. Influenced by the narratives he is surrounded by, Turpin’s work is informed by history and the canvas becoming an expanded pallet of mixed media painting and multi-disciplinary production. 


“My practice is currently rooted in mixed media works that are created in conversation with one another and use similar points of departure, being current or previous affairs/news events, artists and intertextualityI am seeking to unveil these methodologies and analyses of Johannesburg in relation to my own ‘positionality’, in a more ‘quilted’ manner of painting and mixed media production. A lot of what informs my practice is rooted in histories, primarily my own. Coming from mixed heritage and temporally in South Africa as a result of migration from persecution, where does one place oneself in respect to the histories of others? One cannot separate the history of migration here from that of labour. The ‘workers series’ was painted alongside the ‘migration series’ and both act as a work in progress and experiment that is more minimal in my aesthetic, of focusing on a silhouetted figure intertwined with their own history and ‘lot in life’. The work, though found/created objects, introduces elements of sculpture and text to expand practice and painting (a recent development in my emerging practice). My works use semiotics, reflected by song lyrics, various sources of inspiration or the streams of life in popular culture and modernity / post-modernity, as well as repetition, to convey or deplete meanings and knowledge. Choices of medium are dictated by what the envisioned statement of the work deems necessary. The artistic landscape in Johannesburg, and South Africa in general, is heavily political and confrontational with its socio-economic historyThe above ensuing results lead to some kind of narrative, in the form of allegories or fables, be they made up or retold. However I am also interested in exploring the manner in which narratives of a poetic nature may be signified and by whom.”


Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 9.22.23 AM
from Workers Series, 2017 – , ongoing project with Migrant Series, Indian ink on paper


turpin 2.jpg
A Tale of Two Madonnas, 2018


turpin 3


Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 9.26.01 AM
RIOT (WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE), 2016, Oil stick, aerosol, acrylic and marker on canvas, 760mm x 1013mm


turpin 4



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