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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

FRAMING OURSELVES (article first published : 2000-08-19)

Female perspectives, bodies, and voices will come to life in an exciting new exhibition opening on Wednesday (August 23) at the Menzi Mchunu Gallery in the BAT Centre. Named after a talented young Durban artist who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1992, the Menzi Mchunu Gallery is committed to showcasing the best of the talent of KZN and South Africa as a whole.

Framing Ourselves is an exhibition by Mabatho Lesele and Mandisa Mbali, exploring their perspectives as young South African women. The exhibition features works in several mediums including oils, acrylics, woodcut prints, and linoprints. While working within a common set of ideas and themes, each artist brings a unique perspective to their work shaped by their personal histories and influences.

Mabatho Lesele, a South African-born African woman who grew up in apartheid South Africa, is particularly interested in celebrating the strength of female identity despite the many inequities that exist within society. She works mainly in woodcut prints. In exploring the African female identity, Lesele’s work often focuses on the body. “African woman have a different posture to the slender European woman,” she says. “One can exaggerate and elongate some of the body parts to accentuate the African figure.”

Mandisa Mbali’s work is a manifestation of the complexities of her own identity. Born in the United Kingdom to a Black South African father and white British mother, Mbali’s work expresses the many contradictions and challenges she faces as woman of mixed cultural origins in contemporary South Africa. This can be seen in the abstract manner in which the vividly depicts the human body

“There are many descriptions of myself I could give: an Africa/European; a South African British person; African/White/Mixed Race/Coloured person; a young woman. All my paintings are ultimately, in a figurative sense, self-portraits - I can always tell exactly which period of my life they refer to.”

Framing Ourselves will run until September 8. The gallery is open to the public Mondays to Sundays from 09h00 to 17h00.




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