Cape Town-based visual artist in learning, Tony Gum launched her highly anticipated (and first-ever) solo exhibition on Friday 29 September 2017. The Christopher Moller Gallery in Kloof Nek, Cape Town, is hosting the exhibit – a celebration that is proudly and inspiringly African. Befittingly titled, ‘Ode to She’, the solo exhibition centres around Gum’s explorations, discoveries and understanding of the teachings by her elders of what it means to be a Xhosa woman. Showing until 3 November, the exhibit is a ‘letter to self, a poem and song; a calling.’
Christopher Moller Gallery serves as a platform for contemporary artists, specialising in art from the African continent and its diaspora. The exhibition opening marked the gallery’s 10-year anniversary; in celebration, guests were encouraged to dress to the theme, either in red, traditional isiXhosa wear (Imibhaco) or to simply come as they were.
‘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 recognize and respect this essence in others.
‘On my pilgrimage home, many elements were inspiration and reassurance for me,’ shares Gum. ‘This included the body of work 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’.
Only 22 years of age and no stranger to the world stage, Tony has won international acclaim. From Vogue publishing an article in August 2015, titled ‘Tony Gum Might Be the Coolest Girl in Cape Town’; to Elle who characterised her in their round-up of 15 women who are changing their world-and ours, not to mention PULSE Contemporary Art Fair‘s former director Helen Toomer who says, ‘Her work is visually very striking, but also extremely layered,’ when describing Gum’s work following her exhibit at Pulse Miami Beach Contemporary Art Fair (at Art Basel Miami).
It’s safe to say we need more visionaries like Tony Gum, particularly at a time when the world is seizing and celebrating Africa’s cultural energy.