Tony Gum’s first solo exhibition Ode to She, now showing at the Christopher Moller Gallery in Cape Town, explores the artist-in-learning’s personal discoveries, expectations and teachings of elders of what it means to be Xhosa womxn. Defined by Tony as, “a letter to self, a poem and song, a calling”, it expresses different facets of womxnhood, and as an aside, makes the viewer contemplate the impact of selfie culture on identity formation.
”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 recognise and respect this essence in others,” she says.
Ode to She, a series of self-portraits, is a considered reflection inspired by the pilgrimage Tony took the Eastern Cape, and reiterates the power of Xhosa womxn, whilst acknowledging their multifaceted roles and experiences of self, family and society.
It speaks not only to the living but pays tribute to all womxn who have come before. ‘’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,’’ she adds.