The deep suffering of women shown in art forms
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TWO Durban artists have come together and used their creativity to depict the abuse and suffering women have endured at the hands of those close to them.
The collaboration between Devika Pillay and Magrain Moodley has resulted in a collection of artworks comprising mainly sculptures and paintings, depicting the abuse and suffering of women who they’ve encountered, in different phases of their respective lives.
Pillay and Moodley’s creations are presently on display at the Define Art Gallery at the Pearls Mall, uMhlanga.
The exhibition of their work which was produced especially for Women’s Month and is set to run into September, is titled “Breaking the Silence”.
Yesterday, dignitaries and art lovers had the opportunity to get a closer sighting of the art pieces during the gallery’s official launch event.
Both artists said that the collaboration had given them the opportunity to bring to life images that had been etched in their minds long ago, and draw attention to the “deep and intense agony” that some women are forced to endure.
The artistic duo is on a mission to break the silence on rape, abuse, and gender-based violence.
Pillay, who owns the gallery and is the driving force behind the collaboration, has been in the public eye for some years for her many works that have been exhibited.
Her most recent exhibition was Catharsis On Canvas, which closed recently.
Through some “coaxing” from Pillay, Moodley got drawn into the project, and it marked a comeback, nearly 40 years since the last time she had her artwork exhibited.
In the 1980’s she teamed up with another artist and their works had been on show at the NSA Gallery on 320 Pixley KaSeme (formerly West) Street.
“I'm grateful to Devika (Pillay), she pushed me. She created a platform for me to express myself and has been a mentor.”
Moodley has been an artist all her life, she has studied fine arts and graphic art previously, and worked as a commercial artist for various companies.
The motivation for her two-dimensional relief sculptures and oil on canvas paintings came from her childhood experiences.
Her father, who had also produced sculptured art works previously, was a prominent figure in Gledhow Village in KwaDukuza.
As an “educated” person, he was the go-to person in their community. They sought his advice in dealing with various matters, including domestic issues.
‘People would come at any part of the day or night and talk about their troubles”
That’s when Moodley also got to see “severely traumatised” and “badly bashed” women consulting with her father.
Sometimes he would give the women shelter at their home and act as the mediator of disputes, where husbands and mother-in-laws were the ones accused with meting out the violence.
“Those scenes made an impression on me. The exhibits I’ve produced have given me the opportunity to depict the pain I saw etched on people's faces.
“I feel my artwork has given me the chance to get this off my chest. Now that I have broken the silence and expressed myself in an artistic way, I feel relief.”
Moodley’s contributions are the oil paintings and six relief sculptures that were cast in jesmonite and resin. Her crafts emerged after she first produced a wax sculpture with all the relevant detail before creating a rubber mould for the end product.
The sculpture that stands out is one showing a victim with soiled clothes and captioned ‘Rape”
“I just felt led to do it. I am satisfied with what I've done, each one has a deep story to it. The stories that people related to my father,” said Moodley.
The positive response to her work has made Moodley think seriously about trying her hand at more artistic ventures.
Pillay’s series of paintings, digital photos and digital manipulations of photos of herself as the model, goes back to the days when she worked as a nursing sister at a hospital and cared for rape, abuse, and femicide victims.
“I have worked with such patients, and as an artist, like Magrain (Moodley), we found this was the best way to address the victims' issues.
Pillay said she produced many pieces depicting women enduring bondage in their relationships.
For effect, Pillay had a picture shot of herself sitting in a cupboard, all bound up and a man's tie featuring prominently. She also painted the skeletal system onto herself.
Pillay explained that people tend to only look at the superficial injuries that women suffer.
“But it is not only about the black and blue injuries and the broken skin.
“Their pain runs much deeper.
“It’s like a ‘vicious cycle’ (the caption on one of her works), the body heals but the emotional trauma continues,” Pillay said.