Lungi Morrison and Noxolo Mafu
Photographer and artist in learning, Tony Gum wrestles with the infinite existence of womanhood, femininity, loss and solace in her latest exhibition offering, A PORTION. The 24-year-old returns to the canvas to share an intimate show, which follows the journey of self-reflection and healing with her feline confidant; which echoes past and present relationships that have shaped the young artist. Black cats in most African cultures are synonymous with 'bad luck' or evil spirits. In this series, the artist rebelliously anchors the cat as the mode of messaging.
The cat plays a central character in her installation on navigating life's undulating paths. Gum describes this exhibition as a self-reflective series. A PORTION introduces a new style of artistry for her, one deeply centred in the use of distinct colour, symmetry and combines stark black and red costume design with lighting elements to capture and express the bold and lasting impact of the experiences she encountered. Red lighting and smoky hues create the dreamy and surreal place she would go too for solace and respite. 'I have found solace and serenity in simple yet strong palettes, red possibly the strongest most indicative; culturally and spiritually symbolic like these and representative of the journey – red carries life force, oxygenated blood, and fertility in women, red denotes fire, intensity and passion. White and black occupy their distinctive realms; yin/yang, light and dark are symbiotic in many ways relative to culture and reference points' she adds. In an almost cathartic manner, A PORTION captures the existence of women'; bodies as a site for life and violence at the same time.
This work reflects the spirit of fire and pursuit for accountability that has been at the forefront of women's issues across the globe. Gum explores the explosive force of ambition and pure joy carried in her own life and the women who have influenced and shaped her drive while simultaneously exploring the crippling discomfort, fear and danger of being a woman in times of aggravated gender-based violence. This project, much like Gum's earlier works, explores her feminist agenda in creating an equal society for all – even in the collective memory.
Gum has a personal manifesto which is about being resilient. Her work is symbolic of what it means to be 'open': vulnerable, bold and fearless. The things that true authenticity requires of each of us. The willingness to go beyond one's comfort zone whilst, immersed in the unknown where uncertainty and feelings of alienation often reside. It is learning to hold one's centre when all seem unbearable, could crumble at the blink of an eye, it is finding it within ourselves to hold on to the intangible (faith) sources of strength and wisdom - what we come to know as our 'life experience'.
Press release courtesy Christopher Moller Gallery.