When Brett Murray, a standout even in a particularly bright lineup of star art students, won the grand Michaelis prize in his graduate year, 1983, his aesthetic route was defined: the court jester with the finest of touches; social consciousness to be articulated in the high precision of the artful object. His master of fine arts a few years later was a riveting triumph, and the chunky cartoon characters to tread his career stage entered in all their metaphorical glory. One of those, King — a delicious Ubu, rich of ridicule — is coming up for auction on February 16 at Strauss & Co’s contemporary art sale during the weekend’s Cape Town Art Fair. It’s a vivid marker. But even court comedians age. The question is whether they can keep up the jokes-with-a-sting, or at least continue calling them in an audience-tickling manner. Murray rightly put his trust in the polish and meticulousness of the artwork. His new show, Hide, at the poncey Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront...

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