There’s something that makes you double take when you look at a piece of Stuart Bird’s work. At first you simply see it for the artwork it is and the meticulous attention to detail the work possesses. Then, as the mind establishes the context of the piece, the surface aesthetics vanish and a deeper truth is revealed.
“My work centres on issues relating to aspects of South African society, ranging from one-liner piss-takes of the art scene to more sombre investigations of wayward masculinity and violence,” explains Bird. He isn’t trying to simply make a political statement and while his artwork may bear a certain humour, it is not flippant. Instead, he is intolerant of violence against women and the use of force against the powerless, and this pervades almost every aspect of his work. Using hard woods, bronze and cheap found objects, Bird alludes to the way the poor, women, gay people and others have been marginalised through hollow rhetoric and force.
Some of Bird’s work is included in the 2010 Spier Contemporary Exhibition, which is currently travelling the country.