Conrad Bo

General background to my art

My paintings are mostly executed in a style, concept or movement called Superstroke. Superstroke as an idea or movement was conceived by me as a reaction to the impact that Superflat has on contemporary art today. Superflat is one of the few art movements started in the last decade, which is taking contemporary art forward. To understand Superstroke, the viewer must firstly be familiar with Picasso and Braque (Cubism, Picasso Style), Miro (Surrealism, DADA), Matisse (Fauvism), Dubuffet (Art Brut), Appel (Cobra), Basquiat (Graffiti, Neo-Expressionism) and then Superflat, the art movement conceived by the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.



If it was not for the word Superflat, I would not have been able to think of the word Superstroke to describe my art.

The main difference between Superflat and Superstroke is in texture and subject matter. Superstroke paintings rely on heavy expressive, sometimes even violent brushstrokes, where in Superflat the paintings are smooth and flat. Superflat deals mainly with art in the Japanese context, and in Superstroke the subject matter is not that important as long as the painting appears to have a heavily textured surface after execution.


The Manifesto I wrote for Superstroke is as follows:

1. Paintings should be executed using expressive even violent brushstrokes on at least some part of the picture.

2. Should a photograph be used for a figurative painting, the objection should not be Photorealism, but Expressionism.

3. If mediums such as pen, pencil, etc are used, the pen and  pencil strokes must at least be overly expressive for it to be considered a Superstroke picture.

4. Paintings can be executed in both the abstract and figurative.

5. Subject matters such as Africa, light, dark, life and death are encouraged.

6. Collage, Stencil and Calligraphy may be used for impact.

7. The concept, Art for the sake of art, does not apply in Superstroke. In Superstroke it is art for the sake of Superstroke, as the artist must always strive for paintings rich in texture, or excessive brush or pencil strokes.


For those unfamiliar with Superflat, the Manifesto for Superflat, written by Takashi Murakami is as follows,

“The world of the future might be like Japan is today -super flat. Society, customs, art, culture: all are extremely two-dimensional. It is particularly apparent in the arts that this sensibility has been flowing steadily beneath the surface of Japanese history.
Today, the sensibility is most present in Japanese games and anime, which have become powerful parts of world culture. One way to imagine super flatness is to think of the moment when, in creating a desktop graphic for your computer, you merge a number of distinct layers into one. Though it is not a terribly clear example, the feeling I get is a sense of reality that is very nearly a physical sensation. The reason that I have lined up both the high and the low of Japanese art in this book is to convey this feeling. I would like you, the reader, to experience the moment when the layers of Japanese culture, such as pop, erotic pop, otaku, and H.I.S.ism,fuse into one. [H.I.S. is a discount ticket agency in Japan. By lowering the price of travel abroad, the company is having a profound effect on the relationship between Japan and the West.]”

Although I have intentionally incorporated certain Superflat imagery in my work to blur the lines between the two movements, it must be remembered that Superflat originated in Japan and Superstroke in Africa. The implications of this difference are significant, especially in the imagery used.


Superflat refers to the flatness of anime and manga art, which goes back to traditional Japanese watercolors and ink pieces.  Traditional Japanese art is two-dimensional, as is anime.  At the same time, it may also refer to Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s becoming, literally, super-flattened by the bomb.

In Superstroke the rough surface on some of the paintings may suggest the harsh reality of suffering in war zones or very poor countries. It may also be suggestive of the rough surfaces of African art, which served as the inspiration for Cubism. When Van Gogh developed his mature style using exaggerated brush strokes executing paintings, the influence of traditional Japanese art is obvious, this may also suggest a link between Superflat and Superstroke.  Several other possibilities can also be explored in Superstroke’s synthetic phase.



1. I have used A History of Modern Art, HH Arneson 3rd Edition almost exclusively as my reference guide throughout my career. In retrospect, the fact that most of the pictures in this book are black and white, definitely must have had an influence to my excessive use of monochrome in my paintings.


2. I have to mention that the following artists: Giacometti, Matisse Soulages, Dubuffet, Bacon, Rothenburg, Kiefer, Basquiat, Richter, Catherine, Kline, Pollock, Van Gogh, Pei-Ming, Duchamp, Boldini, Picasso, Miro, Papetti, Braque, Mondrian, Murakami, Kosuth, Kawara, Kentridge, Guston, Du Toit, Appel(Cobra), Auerbach etc..... had a definite influence on my painting style. I do however not suggest that my technical abilities are anywhere on par with these great Masters, but feel it is necessary to mention them as I have used some of their ideas in my own paintings to give it more impact.


3. One of the features of my Abstract work is the use of animation. I usually use a background painted in the Superstroke style and painted pieces of canvas or paper. I will then arrange the paper on the background to form different shapes, photographing each stage. These photographs are then used to make a short animated film, exhibited alongside the final painting (The paper or canvas pieces are usually glued to the background to form the final painting). Cubism, Superflat and the book William Kentridge, by Dan Cameron, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, J M Coetzee, was the main inspiration for me to take my work into this direction.


4. The concept of Picassofication, is something that I have integrated into Superstroke. This theory or concept is something I have been working on for many years, and it has many layers of interpretation to it. Picasso’s “Bull(s)” produced in 1945 and consisting out of 11 lithographs, was the main inspiration I have used for this concept.  





Conrad Bo

Artist Bio



Born in Pretoria, South Africa



University of Johannesburg  


Completes B.Com degree


Selected Solo Exhibitions



 “America from my couch”, Penmore Towers, Johannesburg South Africa

 “In and out of Africa, images of life and death”, Penmore Towers, Johannesburg South Africa



“Cry my beloved Africa”, Penmore Towers, Johannesburg South Africa



“Analytical Generalism (Landscape, Abstract, Figurative)”, Penmore Towers, Johannesburg South Africa

“Monochrome portraits”, Casciano Estate, Johannesburg South Africa



“Analytical Generalism (Monochrome)”, Corner house, Johannesburg South Africa



“Generalism, Architecturism, Television Impressionism”, Blue Gecko, Johannesburg South Africa



“Generalism”, Corner house, Johannesburg South Africa



“Still life, and landscape”, Cullinan Art Gallery, Cullinan, South Africa



“Abstrak en figuratief”, Perth Street Art Gallery, Johannesburg South Africa



“Afrika”, Perth Street Art Gallery, Johannesburg South Africa



“Ongetiteld”, Solo Exhibition, Dorm room at University of Johannesburg


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