Tony Gum: An Artist In Learning

Tony Gum is an “artist in learning”, who has been dubbed by Vogue.com  as possibly the “Coolest Girl in Cape Town”.  Tony Gum has managed to create an identity for South African art internationally by utilizing various mediums such as portraiture representing her dynamic appetite for storytelling in a way that creates an accessibility across borders, transcending class, race and gender. 

As a growing artist in Africa, Gum strives to tackle issues of representation through the use of iconic contemporary portraiture. She represents a movement of South African youth who have a desire beyond their current circumstances. She shows the youth culture firstly that beauty is both culture and heritage. She shows that who we are is defined as something new and unexplored. We can be identified as a unity of youth defined by creativity not by history in a country where people are struggling to create a sense of unity as well as identity beyond what is given to them. She represents an unapologetic choice to be an individual. 

Gum’s collections have been exhibited internationally and she is chosen partially because she does not rely on the guilt of ‘’entitlements or lack of opportunities’’ which makes the vast majority of youth culture grateful to her as well as her ability to make one review everyday life and objects extraordinary and worth reflecting on – the appreciation of what surrounds you. 

Her vision of making art accessible to ordinary people by using their daily objects has inspired many underprivileged people to understand that art is not only for the elite. Her relevance comes from the fact that she is taking a divided country and unifying people in a way where you could not have accessed it previously. Her art has an innocence and purity – you simply have to see it to understand it, which creates a personal bond to the work. 

With a deep interest in local art and the development of education art - Gum takes an active role in educating, facilitating and guiding children through creative outlets. Her passion is to empower local youth by serving as an ambassador. 

Given the opportunity with financial backing her long term goal is to create a generation of ‘makers’. Thereby allowing children otherwise unable to have access to trade the opportunity to become craftsmen and self-sustainable. e.g. The opportunity to teach children to be carpenters, blacksmiths and other trades which provide creativity as well as financial support. A fundamental part of her empowerment program is to make youngsters believe in even the mundane.

 Original article published by Tony Gum 

Image by LDS Photography