“Affliction I” 2012 Digital Print 42cmx 59.4cm
“Affliction II” 2012 Digital Print 42cmx 59.4cm
“Bondage I” 2010 Charcoal on paper 94cm x66 cm
“The Ecstacy” Acrylic on canvas 122cm x 152cm.
“The sacrifice” Acrylic on canvas 140cmx 170cm
“The power of the image lies in the fact that we [women] are not made to witness the display but are, rather, involved in the process through which identity is formed”
Women have the power over their bodies and my work tries to undermine the historical representation of the female nude.The female body/ flesh sensitive giving a sense of sensuality, touch and intimacy between two women in a relationship. The idea of pain felt by most lesbians due to discrimination and hate crimes is an occurring theme in my work. This pain or discomfort is juxtaposed with the soft and sensitive flesh.
The work that I create deals with issues around the prejudiced attitude of the Church and society towards homosexuals. Through personal experience, I have become conscious of the prejudiced and negative attitudes possessed by the church I was brought up in. As Christian traditions do not accommodate my identity as a lesbian I find it difficult to accept my Christian upbringing and the work that I have done this year deals with my conflicting relationship with the church.
Themes such as sexuality, pain, ecstasy and love are portrayed in my painting and drawings. I look at religion, specifically Christianity, and how it constrains my sexuality.
I use my body in the work I make because I am dealing with very personal context.
I also use my body to reclaim the black female body that has been objectified in visual representations. The history of the black female body is rooted in representation of stereotypes and discrimination. I reference Biblical imagery from in Baroque and Renaissance paintings. I then superimpose my body into the images.
By doing this, I am able to change and construct my own meaning and understanding to my work.
The meaning is related to my personal experience of homophobic and prejudice in the church. The works not only comment on the emotional violence and suffering caused by the church but also refer to overcoming that pain through love and acceptance for who I am.
Reneilwe (Rene) Mathibe is painter and writer living and working in Johannesburg.
She was born in 1989 North West Province, Rusternburg. She completed her B-Tech Degree in Visual Arts at the University of Johannesburg with painting as a major. Mathibe currently works as drawing and concept development facilitator at Artist Proof Studio.
Recent group exhibitions include Women’s Journey, Limpopo; Coming of age: 21 years of Artist Proof, Johannesburg and Images of Women, Johannesburg. Her work focuses and examines the constraints faced by most black lesbians in South Africa.