Ode To She: Tony Gum's Solo Exhibition

This past weekend, I went and checked out 'Ode to She', a solo exhibition by South African artist in learning, Tony Gum, currently open for viewing at the Christopher Moller Art Gallery in Cape Town. The exhibition has been running since 29th September and will be wrapping up on 3rd November.

The artist in learning defines ‘Ode:’ as ‘A letter to self ‘; A Poem & song’; ‘A Calling’. Her latest work presented in self-portraits remarkably explores culture, heritage and womanhood; fused with present-day times.
‘Ode to She’ is an invitation to experience the narrative of transition and transformation; the journey in Xhosa tradition known as, ‘intonjane’ when, a young girl ‘intombi’, bare chested, adorned in traditional beads and ‘imbaola’, a traditional natural body clay, becomes a woman ‘umfazi’ and later, ‘umama omkhulu’ or ‘ixhego’ – old lady. Different rooms in the gallery, symbolic of the distinct stages and process of transitioning among Xhosa women, also reflect the tapestry of rural life, thatched kraals, dry veld and cloud filled skies symbolic of the complexity of early life years. In the foreground, each stage captures the extent to which women in particular, navigate multiple narratives.
'Xhosa Woman - Intombi II'

'Milk of Human Kindness'

'Xhosa Woman - Umfazi'
Ode to She is not only impeccable but also intriguing, thought-provoking and relatable. It is indeed an Ode.

Gum was named 'The Coolest Girl in Cape Town' by Vogue magazine and is also well-known for her Black Coca-Cola photo series that features the renowned drink brand and her ideas of African representation. In 2016, Design Indaba dubbed her their Global Graduates and an artist on a journey towards self-actualisation. 

Well done to Tony Gum on this iconic body of work. We await more beautifully told stories by you. If you are in Cape Town and keen on experiencing her captivating work, visit the Christopher Moller Gallery located on 7 Kloof Nek Rd, Garden, open Tuesday to Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The viewing is free.

Credit: Christopher Moller Art Gallery & Design Indaba
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