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"Framing Ourselves: an exploration of the South African female identity by two young women artists"
2000-08-23 until 2000-09-08
BAT Centre
Durban, , ZA South Africa

Female perspectives, bodies, and voices will come to life in an exciting new exhibition opening next Wednesday at the Menzi Mchunu Gallery in the BAT Centre on Durban's Victoria Embankment. Framing Ourselves is an exhibition put together 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, and is particularly interested in celebrating the strength of female identity despite in the many inequities that exist within society. Lesele 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. They are more curvy and round, and it is really interesting to look at [...]. I explored the female body contours in some of my art works. I found that I have the freedom to play around with the figures [...]. One can exaggerate and elongate some of the body parts to accentuate the African figure.

Mandisa Mbali's work is very much 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.

Lesele and Mbatho created Framing Ourselves as an artistic dialogue about the female identity. It is hoped that gallery visitors will engage in this dialogue -- exploring their own interpretations and reaction to the works, and relating the ideas to their personal experiences.

Framing Ourselves open Wednesday August 23, 2000 at 6PM and runs till Friday September 8, 2000 in the Menzi Mchunu Gallery. The gallery is open to the public Mondays to Sundays from 9am to 5pm (BAT Centre, 45 Maritime Place, Small Craft Harbour, Durban 4001, Tel: 031 332-0451).

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 KwaZulu Natal and South Africa as a whole.


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