Jean Theron Louw: My Africa Wild Dogs

Jean’s mixed media sculptural ensemble My African Wild Dogs pulls such a devastatingly emotional punch that it leaves the viewer reeling. Deservedly it was nominated and awarded the winner at the 2020 KykNET Fiesta awards as the best achievement in the visual arts category.

On exhibition at Gallery One11’s reiteration of Jean’s original exhibition which deals with ecology, overpopulation, sexual abuse, xenophobia and many other issues of pressing universal importance. Jean was the US WoordFees trophy winner for Visual Arts – Best Presentation and the official festival artist at the Montagu Book Festival both 2019.

Jean’s 21+1+1. The title refers to the number of ex-president Zuma’s children and the work addresses overpopulation and asks whether, in our world of dwindling resources, anyone possesses the right to procreate on such a massive scale.

While My African Wild Dogs pivots around the canines, it also transforms them into a metaphor for the artist’s exploration of her own inner disarray in the face of the lethal devastation of the planet and the threat of the industrialized world’s collapse.

What galvanized her into creating this suite was a burning sense of urgency, of crisis, paralysis and deadlock. Impelled by an overwhelming need to speak out, she used her sculpture as a kind of alarm system, warning humanity that we have reached the eleventh hour, that the clock relentlessly ticks on, and that, unless we drastically revise our ideas and take action immediately, we cannot avert the imminent global catastrophe that looms ahead.

Gallery One11 believe that contemporary art spaces carry a social responsibility to promote dialogue and create safe spaces to engage the community to address social discourse that affect all our lives.

This detail of a drawing from illustrates how the wild dog and the artist merge and become one. Jean recognizes the parallel between herself and the animal which embodies both the ego and the id, both the tender nurturing instincts and the anti-social, destructive and murderous drives within the human psyche.

Jean’s attitude towards her subject is one of deep ambivalence. While the dog’s carnivorous ferocity arouses deep-seated subconscious dreads, the creature also arouses empathy as the species is on the verge of extinction. There are currently less than 400 wild dogs left in South Africa, and the number diminishes with every passing day. Jean also experiences feelings of kinship with the dogs who possess human qualities. Romulus and Remus were suckled by a mothering wolf and the dogs are protective of each other, nurture their offspring in a collective effort and demonstrate an ability to subsume their individuality within the pack’s greater identity in order to ensure survival.

My Wild Dogs by Jean Theron Louw is on show at Gallery One11 until 09/03/2020

website : Gallery One11