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Majak exhibits in Pretoria


When Majak Bredell emigrated to New York in 1981 with her husband and two young children she embarked on a journey that would lead her from the confines of a traditional marriage to the riches this world-city had to offer the searching artist. The Association of Arts, Pretoria in conjunction with the Pretoria Art Museum will be mounting an extensive retrospective exhibition, MAJAK BREDELL: THE NEW YORK YEARS 1981-2003, curated by Prof. Elfriede Dreyer. The works on show at both the venues cover a period of 22 years that follow the trajectory of the artist’s initial confrontations with issues of belonging and dis-belonging as the chasm between her mother country and her adopted home were mediated in both image and poetry. Several artist’s books with images and bilingual poems resulted from this.

Majak states in the catalogue accompanying the exhibitions:

“Through art-making I quarrelled with the legacy and unyielding demands of the patriarchal Calvinism that shaped my childhood in the 1950s. This journey, accompanied by Jungian therapy and much reading, eventually led me to a gender shift in the image of the sacred, culminating in my resurrection of ancient notions of the great mother, goddess, the sacred female.  In this process, I imagined an embodied reflection of those parts of being that had been marginalized or rejected by western monotheism’s misogyny and its casting of the sexual female body into the abyss of so-called original sin. During my sojourn in that great city, art-making remained my passion despite limited exhibition opportunities.  Longing for my mother country and the loss of a South African identity eventually precipitated my return to South Africa after a hiatus of almost 23 years.  By which time my identity had shifted to include my New York identity that I wore like a second skin — a double identity I wear to this day.”

Since her return to South Africa, the themes developed in New York were further elaborated and exhibited:  2009: Alter Images: The Black Madonna & Sisters; 2013: Roll Call: a vindication of the lives and bodies that were destroyed during the centuries-long European witch persecutions; 2016: Codex Magdalene+: towards a new iconography and re-imaging the mythology and legends of Mary Magdalene; and her current works in progress, Earth/Body, that centre around dialogues between the human body and the body of the earth.

The Pretoria exhibitions: An introduction to the work opens Friday 6 March 2020 at 19h00 at The Association of Arts Pretoria, 173 Mackie Street, Nieuw Muckleneuk, Pretoria. Closing 25 March 2020. The comprehensive exhibition opens Saturday 14 March 2020 at 11h00 The Pretoria Art Museum, cnr Francis Baard and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park, Pretoria. Closing 14 June 2020