Helen Sebidi explores her ancestry & matriarchal strength through art

New collection of paintings explores themes of duality and African lineage.

Marking a return to surreal representation, Helen Sebidi’s latest artworks are currently on show at the Michaelis Art Galleries in Cape Town, South Africa. The exhibition, “Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi – An exhibition of paintings and prints”, draws from Sebidi’s illustrious career as a fine artist.

Growing up in Marapyane, Sebidi learned the intricate dexterities of embroidery, sewing, beadwork, knitting and calabash decoration from her grandmother before refining her artistic expression into paint and print-making during the 1970s.

Sebidi offers a unique view of cultural realities and her work often explores themes of duality and lineage. Her work typically makes no reference to any urban setting or western backdrop, depicting instead social community and rituals that have not been touched by colonisation. The human figures in her paintings (who tend to be cramped together and slightly contorted) usually feature eyes of different colours, signifying a great spiritual alteration.

Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi – An exhibition of paintings and prints will remain on display at South Africa's University of Cape Town (UCT) until 14 October.