The Silence of Herstory – 2008

 Renaissance painting composition based on Sofonisba Anguissola

Oil on canvas
100 x 87 cm

Based on a composition by Sofonisba Anguissola the famous renaissance artist, I have portrayed a chess game, the life and death game (of men), being played out by women. The female players straddle the ages; the left hand player is wearing period renaissance costume while her opponent is naked.  The younger player has a shaved head indicative of an assertive contemporary rite of passage.   Each player in their respective ways is exceptionally confident and the younger is guided by a wise crone, looking down over her shoulder.

Above the action is the Tate prize winning sculpture “House” – 1993 by contemporary sculptor Rachael Whiteread.  Although made entirely of sold concrete, it hovers ephemerally above the game. (prefiguring the spaceship hovering over Johannesburg in the film District nine) The only male presence is the chess set designed by artist Man Ray and these male pieces, manipulated by female players, are the conduit through which the game will either be won or lost.