Rethinking Irma Stern
In 2022 and 2023, the UCT Irma Stern Museum (ISM) is excited to partner with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on a new project which introduces the inspiration of Irma Stern’s art to school learners in this province.
For this initiative, all WCED Grade 11 Visual Art and Design learners were invited to visit the UCT Irma Stern Museum or view the museum’s website and analyse, re-think and re-interpret the work of Irma Stern in an art or design piece of their own. The learners who came to the museum had great fun participating in practical three-hour workshops linked to the initiative.
We are delighted with the results and look forward to sharing a selection of the learner’s work – as chosen by an independent panel – during the exhibition 14–30 September 2022 at the Irma Stern Museum. From cushions to paintings, handbags, drawings, textiles and children’s books to fashion pieces – you, too, will love the results. We are proud to encourage and inspire our next generation of artists and designers!
Georgina Gratrix exhibition opens soon
As part of the museum’s 50th anniversary year programme, artist-in-residence Georgina Gratrix is currently hard at work in the museum residency studio. The 28 September will see the opening of her provocatively titled exhibition ‘The Cult of Ugliness’ – featuring Gartrix’s newly created paintings teamed with her previous unshown work and objects from the Irma Stern Collection.
Shortly after Stern’s first exhibition in South Africa a century ago (1922), Stern was lambasted in the local media, with one critic referring to her work as a “Freak Picture Exhibition” in a review titled “Art of Miss Irma Stern – Ugliness as a Cult”. Georgina takes this quote as her point of departure to examine the ways in which Modernism has impacted on her own work and how its historical influence continues to shape the various twists and turns of contemporary art.
With Georgina’s interest in the gaudy and the banal, she, like Stern, has been accused of ‘unacceptable ugliness’ in her art. Gratrix’s paintings playfully investigate the boundaries between desirability and the grotesque – lugubrious paint repels and yet also attracts with its tactile sensuality, figures and objects are wobbly and distorted and yet also endearingly humorous, the objects and beings that form her subject-matter are both boringly everyday, and, through her unusual rendition of them, become extra-ordinary.
“All painting is a conversation with the history of painting,” says Georgina. Make sure you catch the exhibition from 28 September and look out on our social media platforms and in the next newsletter for details on linked walkabouts and special events.
We look forward to seeing you again at the UCT Irma Stern Museum.
With best wishes from the ISM Team
*Image: artwork by Jamie from Bergvliet High School