“Our Lady,” a multi-media exhibition opened at the Iziko South African National Gallery, on 11 November 2016.The exhibition drawn from the permanent art collections of Iziko Museums of South Africa and the New Church Museum.
Designed to interrupt the typical traditional moral attitudes and male dominated stereotypes that surrounds imagery of the female form, the exhibition brings together artworks spanning more than 170 years. The works celebrate empowered female capacity that counter and contextualise the current status quo, and are woven together in a compelling exhibition.
Works by a selection of artists who employ different strategies when depicting the female subject are on show. These include artworks by Bridget Baker; Conrad Botes; Njideka Akunyili Crosby; Charles D’ Entraygues; George Henry, William Etty; Louis Ricard; Khanyisile Mbongwa; Deborah Poynton; Penny Siopis; Ed Young and many more.
“Our Lady” challenges the age old visual perception of the female form as an idealised, mythical and sexual object – a notion perpetuated through media and often reinforcing unequal gender relationships. Feminine identity has, for the most part, been one-dimensional, painted with opposing attributes of saint or sinner, wife or witch, virgin or whore.
Our Lady creates a contemporary narrative demanding that women be viewed as strong, empowered beings. The exhibition is co-curated by Andrea Lewis, Curator: Iziko Art Collections; Candice Allison and Kirsty Cockerill, both from the New Church Museum, and runs at the Iziko South African National Galley until June 2017.