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Angela Banks is an artist who is deeply fascinated by both the reading into, as well as the creation of, a simulated individual’s identity within its society. Banks looks at icons, archetypes and stereotypes ideologically formed by social orders, and pokes fun at the various masquerades that individuals and society like to hide behind.

In 1999 Banks graduated with a BA Fine Arts degree, with distinction in Painting, from the University of Pretoria. She then went on to obtain her MA( Fine Arts) in 2003 also from the University of Pretoria. She has since been on residencies in France as well as China which has afforded her the opportunity to experience European and Eastern art and has allowed her to exhibit internationally too.

Banks has made great use of the portrait, human and animal, sometimes set within a specific context and other times not. Symbolic adornment and choice of pose and attire are carefully selected as a means to invent or invoke an identity. Her work suggests a certain kind of posing within society today, where pretending to be something or someone other than who you are, or hiding behind titles and job descriptions, is a common occurrence. Banks also however highlights how certain iconic personas, historically symbolic of the society in which they are created; lean towards a certain documentation and evidence of specific ideology at a specific time in history. Such is the case with the work created in Shenzhen, China. The portraits created there represent the history of the city as well as ideals lived by, and their icons are revered by the people as a witness to what has been achieved over only 30 years. By tackling and probing masks and guises, adopted by the individual or assigned by society, Banks aims at revealing that all the world is a stage and focuses on how appearances can modify and sometimes blur the truth, or hide the individuals true identity.

Amalgamating human and animal to create the hybrid figure, has been part of Banks’ more recent work. This mergence is not meant to make her portraits demeaning to either human or animal, as has been suggested in the past. Instead they aim at creating characters in their own right, forming a narrative between the animals’ particular instinctual characteristics and the human body they have been assigned to. The combination also highlights a need to adopt and adapt to the personas individual circumstance but also suggests a commentary on its existence within its historical and political arena. Banks’ technical proficiency also lends to a fascination of the fusion, as human and animal tend to fit quite well together. Banks aims at creating questions in her viewers’ minds as to what the pre-fabricated hybrid persona is communicating, considering their own personal views as well as that of the persona represented.

Moving onwards now, new work encompasses a fresh layering of personal experiences and emotion felt by typecast current societal positions. Banks seeks out new technical avenues to represent this viewpoint and to compliment and work together with her realistic style of painting. Angela Banks continues her adopt/adapt principle but does so now, not only on a symbolic level, but on an emotional, personal and practical level too.