Our Lady | 11 Nov 2016 – Jun 2017
The New Church Museum in partnership with Iziko South African National Gallery present
11 November 2016 – June 2017
Co-curated by Candice Allison, Kirsty Cockerill and Andrea Lewis
Artworks by: ALFRED STEVENS, BRIDGET BAKER, CAMERON PLATTER, CHARLES D’ENTRAYGUES, CONRAD BOTES, CONSTANCE STUART-LARRABEE, DEBORAH POYNTON, ED YOUNG, EDMUND SULLIVAN, GEORGE HENRY, HEROLD GREEN, JOOS VAN DER BEKE, KHANYISILE MBONGWA, LOUIS RICARD, MARCUS STONE, MASTER OF THE RETABLE OF GüSTROW, MATTHEW HINDLEY, MAURICE GREIFFENHAGEN, NJIDEKA AKUNYILI CROSBY, PENNY SIOPIS, PETRUS HENDRIKS, PHILIP CONNARD, PIETER HUGO, SCHOOL OF FIESOLE, TRACEY ROSE, WILLIAM ETTY, ZWELETHU MTHETHWA
Bringing together a selection of artworks from the permanent collections of The New Church Museum and Iziko South African National Gallery, Our Lady reflects on the evolving canon of artistic representations of women spanning more than 170 years of image making.
This exhibition highlights works of selected artists who employ different strategies when depicting the female subject. When we think of visual representations of women, we are often confronted with idealised, mythologised, sexualised or objectified images that are revealing of unequal gender relationships. Women’s bodies have been used as symbolic objects, representing political, erotic or aesthetic ideals, rather than representing individual female subjects.
Until the nineteenth century, women were predominantly portrayed in art in a religious context, and the most frequently depicted female image was that of ‘Our Lady’ the Virgin Mary. While the Virgin Mary represented the pinnacle of the feminine ‘ideal’ within the essentially patriarchal forms of traditional Christianity, other cultural concepts of the feminine also mirror the opposing attributes of saint or sinner, wife or witch, virgin or whore. Depictions of the nude female body were restricted to images of Eve or scenes from classical mythology, as the paganism of the Greeks and Romans excused their lack of modesty.
It is evident that over the centuries, women increasingly emerged from the shadow of religion but remained represented by the patriarchal imagery allocated to the female form. Viewing the older works on Our Lady with the benefit of a contemporary perspective we are able to see them as both trapped in, and free from, the macro-historical forces that were at play when they were produced. Many of the contemporary works reference this traditional imagery in the process of reclaiming, rejecting or reconstituting notions and attitudes around powerful female capacity.
Hosted by Iziko South African National Gallery
Government Ave, Company’s Gardens, Cape Town
Open Daily: 10am – 5pm
6-18 years R15
SA Students and pensioners R15
SAVE THE DATE:
1 December 2016, 6-9pm
Part of Thursday Late at the National Gallery
10 December 2016, 11am
Walkabout with the curators
Image: Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Mama, Mummy and Mamma (predecessors 2), 2014