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Indepth Arts News:

"Doreen Southwood: The Swimmer"
2003-07-18 until 2003-08-02
Bell-Roberts Art Gallery
Cape Town, , ZA South Africa

Bell-Roberts Gallery presents Doreen Southwood's latest sculpture entilted "The Swimmer" during the last weeks of July. Doreen Southwood won the Sasol Prize for best visual artwork earlier this year at the 2003 Klein Karoo National Arts festival, in Oudtshoorn. At once visually beautiful, insidiously disturbing and quietly humorous, Doreen Southwood's work is situated firmly in the paradoxical. Playing the opposites of interior/ exterior; private/ public; surface/ depth; comfort/ discomfort and vertical/ horizontal against each other, Southwood's work explores the conservative Afrikaans environment in which she was raised as a white, middle class woman, brought up in privileged circumstances during the heyday of Apartheid.

It is a space where oppression and depression which are continually swept under the carpet in favour of a more acceptable outward appearance. Doreen details the pathologies and symptoms that attend this denial. Symptom relieving drugs domestic crafts and apparently precious domestic trappings are all part of a failure to recognise the true nature of this repressive situation and to replace it with a clean, glossy exterior. The works often depend on devices such as repetition and the careful use of unsaturated, rather anodyne colour to produce a feeling of dislocation and claustrophobia in a viewer. Doreen Southwood held her first solo exhibition at Bell-Roberts Art Gallery in January 2001 to much critical claim. She has since been lauded as one of South Africa's rising stars by critics and those in the know.

Southwood says of her work "my work examines my status as a white,middle class woman. In doing so I'm exploring the society I was raised in, the comfort of domestic isolation and dependencies. I am interested in the social pathologies that arise in a way which is both social commentary and autobiographical. The bronze figure entitled "Mother and Child" depicts me holding what appears to be a baby when the sculpture is viewed from the front, but is revealed as a lap dog when viewed from the rear.

Southwood completed her Master's degree at the University of Stellenbosch which she began in 1999. Recent Standard Bank Young Artist Award recipient and winner of FNB Vita Award winner Alan Alborough was one of her supervisors.

Doreen Southwood
The Swimmer, 2003
Painted bronze
Installation view

The Bell-Roberts Gallery maintains a gallery portfolio at absolutearts.com.

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