Using ink, watercolour and crayon, Lady Skollie creates playfully sexual paintings, filled with bright colours, symbolic fruit, and all the joy and darkness of the erotic. Her work is simultaneously bold and vulnerable, expressing the duality of human sexuality; she explains, “it’s the simplest and the most complicated thing of being human, and [it] reminds us that we are just animals. Sex, food and sleep are very primal”.
In Lust Politics Lady Skollie presents new painterly works considering sex, gender roles, taboos, objectification, violence, power structures, greed and lust. The result is a body of confrontational artwork rich with suggestive images of bananas, papayas and repeated patterns of ‘pussy prints’; these fruit motifs highlight the artist’s anxiety towards unrealistic expectations of sexual and romantic relations between men and women. In these new works, delicate and vibrant colours are masterfully blended within images that transcend Lady Skollie’s own take on sexual fantasies and desires.
As part of the exhibition, the artist will be painting a large scale mural in the gallery on Wednesday 18 January.
The moniker ‘Skollie’ is a term used to describe a shady character, historically used in South Africa when a person of colour was in a place deemed unsuitable by the white populace. Lady Skollie embodies an interplay of masculine and feminine energy, creating a space where the disparate parts of her personality are reconciled. The artist explains, “I just like having an alias. You feel like you can take more risks under a pseudonym… there is a psychology behind aliases, a kind of strength that they give you”.
The work’s inherent sensuality questions concepts of desire, gender, attraction, sexuality and sex, intimacy and consent. Lady Skollie explores the objectification of the female body with the ultimate aim of evoking change away from patriarchal, misogynistic norms. “Art is about confronting and making people, including yourself, feel uncomfortable. Art as social commentary, art as political commentary, it’s all important in the quest to evoke rage”, explains Lady Skollie. The artist channels her ideas, attitudes and work into activism: “I am angry about a lot of things. Mostly pertaining to existing on this planet as a woman”.
A part of the new, digitally engaged generation of young artists, Lady Skollie expresses herself on social media – as well as recording a sex talk radio show – something she regards as a necessity in order to avoid subscribing to archaic ways of viewing art. In her words: “Self-expression has never been as cheap or easy. Use it”. At the same time, Lady Skollie sees art as an essential antidote to the distractions of the digital age.
Lady Skollie was born in 1987 in Cape Town and was educated at the University of Cape Town. Her work has been exhibited widely across South Africa, with a number of special projects at the Michael Stevenson Gallery and the Association for Visual Arts. She has been featured on CNN Africa and CNN International on ‘African Voices’.
Her solo exhibitions include Vroeg Ryp, Vroeg Vrot by Lady Skollie, 2015, Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa; Ask for what you want by Lady Skollie, WorldArt Gallery, 2015, Cape Town, South Africa; ‘The only reason’ by Lady Skollie, 2014, Stevenson Gallery RAMP Project, Cape Town, South Africa and Skattie Celebrates Laura Windvogel, Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017.