Petrolpetal & the South African School of Subtle Aesthetic Obscurity (Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa)

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Mail-art by IUOMA member Petrolpetal (Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa)

April 29, 2014 - Petrolpetal is a talented, energetic South African mail-artist currently making a big splash in the Eternal Network. She lends credence to the nearly indisputable evidence accumulating over the past three years that South Africa has become a vital mail-art center producing innovative work. Petrolpetal, while highly original in her own right, is doing work in the same aesthetic realm as Cheryl Penn, Lesley Magwood-Fraser, Cuan Miles and others that we at MinXus-Lynxus have identified as the South African School of Subtle Aesthetic Obscurity.

Petrolpetal is, however, less obscure than her counterparts and more inclined to employ found materials and post-avant strategies. This fantastic work she sent is an ingeniously altered cereal box. The panels can be folded to create different variations on the core work, so there is an interactive element. Cerealism, the use of cereal boxes in mail-art, can be traced back to Ray Johnson; and of course, Cerealism is also considered a form of Trashpo. I am thrilled to share this wonderful piece and give it a home in the MinXus USA Archives. Here is the reverse side:

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Petrolpetal’s piece is a marvel of tonality using paint and complex stamp and stencil overlays. Here is a close-up of one section:

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Identifying the source of the gold image (for example it does bear a resemblance to an old cassette) is problematic but hardly necessary. On the cardboard it certainly has an asemic, cryptic quality. Petropetal has overlaid this on the cereal box text, so we have a visual-verbal construct, a complex integration of color, image, text, indecipherable symbols that work together with, in our estimation, pleasing results without the jarring qualities one finds in the anti-art strain of Trashpo.

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Many thanks to Petrolpetal for sending us this FAB work!

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Comment by De Villo Sloan on May 1, 2014 at 5:23pm

PetroPetal, thanks for the great work and for being so gracious about the discussion. It's actually called the South African Symbolist School of Subtle Aesthetic Obscurity - that's the comparison being made.

Comment by Petrolpetal on April 30, 2014 at 2:39pm

You inspire me! Thanks!

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 29, 2014 at 6:36pm

Interesting compare & contrast, Rebecca. Petropetal has a great concept with these folding pieces, IMHO. Then she tailors the content further for the recipient. I appreciate that. I noticed mine pressed all the right buttons in terms of interests such as Trashpo, vispo, etc. Nearly everyone deals with the quality/quantity question in some form.

As for your Trashpo-archival question, I have been active again in mail-art since 2010. I have saved everything & it's archived chronologically. I am a poor example of an archvist compared to many, but I try to preserve everything. With the blogging, I find I am developing an extensive digital archive that is much better organized. That could be the future of archiving for many of us.

I also have a huge collection from the 80s & 90s when I was active. I saved (almost) everything but it's a disaster of things just thrown in boxes. I'm trying to figure out what to do with that still. For instance, I know tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE and I corresponded but don't have there wherewithal to dive into the mess & find the material.

Comment by Rebecca Guyver on April 29, 2014 at 4:48pm

Petrolpetal also seems to have versions of designs that she tailors to suit the recipient.  If you compare the one I received to the one you received they are subtlely different but carefully considered!

Go Petrolpetal! and nice blog DVS!



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