21 September - 22 October 2005
Doreen Southwood shows a large-scale painting in her first exhibition at Michael Stevenson. A striking aspect of Southwood's practice is the diversity of the media which she employs in creating a very coherent body of work that is concerned with the interior life of the individual.
Southwood is perhaps best known as the overall winner of the first Brett Kebble Art Awards in 2003 for her painted bronze sculpture The Swimmer. This work was also exhibited on the group exhibition Personal Affects: Power and poetics in contemporary South African art in New York in 2004, along with Black Hole, in which ribbons in fine gradations of colour are stitched together to create the illusion of a deep circular pool. The protean nature of her talent comes to the fore again in this exhibition, in which she concentrates for the first time on painting. As is the case whatever the media Southwood uses, extraordinary attention is paid to the refined quality of the surface, emphasising the painting's status as object; at the same time paintings interact with each other and their surroundings, highlighting the dynamics of their installation.
Southwood's monumental triptych reprises the theme of the swimmer, this time showing an individual figure multiplied and repeated in varying poses across a breadth of water, effectively engaged in ongoing competition with the self. This sense of inner struggle, with the individual simultaneously floundering and forging ahead, is common to many of Southwood's works.
Born in Cape Town in 1974, Southwood has exhibited widely and received a number of awards, most recently winning a commission for a public sculpture in Tilburg, the Netherlands, which will be installed in March/April 2006. Her diverse skills are also manifest in her second career as a strongly individualistic clothing designer with a shop, Mememe, in Long Street, Cape Town.
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