Gum’s work is internationally recognised for its ability to fuse academic opinion and commentary about socio-economic current affairs with pop art, instantaneously entertaining the viewer while engaging them in dialogue that evokes self-introspection. Her exhibition will be housed at the Christopher Moller Gallery in Kloof Nek Road.
The exhibition, opening during Heritage Month, which follows Women’s Month, is highly appropriate as Ode to She is a bouquet of explorative work tackling the journey to womanhood through the understanding of one’s own heritage.
“I believe in honouring our individual truths. Our ability to pause, reflect, connect and celebrate that which makes each of us whole means we are better placed to recognise and respect this essence in others,” says Gum.
“On my recent pilgrimage home to the Eastern Cape, I discovered many elements which were inspirational and a reassurance for me, including the body of work and the song titled A Seat at the Table by musician Solange Knowles.
“I learnt through this work; I wanted to reiterate the power and representation of Xhosa women, acknowledging their multifaceted roles, complex experiences of self, family and society.
“So it was important for me that this story be a poem, a song, a letter to She - She, the Being, who understands He/She/Them to be a force, like nature; a person who has been beaten, tried and tested, yet is able to rise above it all.”
Tony Gum’s Milk the Bok (Milked in Africa Series)
Ode to She is presented as an intimate still life; a human encounter with the artist. The work sets a narrative that illustrates a message that as the viewer, you are allowed to depict as your emotions encourage.
Gum’s innate desire to learn and to articulate what she has learnt also allows the work to form academic opinion on the subject, and further engage that thesis with inclusions of elements such as modern distractions such as smartphones, to extend the story. In a somewhat polite manner, this also turns the mirror on the viewer to allow them to ask themselves questions such as “am I like that too?”
In keeping with today’s technologically advanced society, this exhibition, steeped in history, tradition and heritage, is preluded by the hashtag #TonyGumCalling. In its digital essence, it’s the artist’s call to viewers to engage and find their heritage, to tell their story, write their poem and sing their song. For as much as we are our past, our tomorrow is guided and partly influenced by our current state of mind.
Tony Gum’s Cape Town solo exhibition Ode to She, is a combination of new work and past themes revisited with never-before-seen visuals. Experience this visual journey first-hand at the Christopher Moller Gallery in Cape Town from September 29 until November 3.
* The artist will be celebrating this milestone with an “All Red”-themed after-party on the night; all you have to do is follow the hashtags #TonyGumCalling and #odetoshe for details. Connect with Gum on Instagram @tony_gum