Art, much like fruit, differs in taste from person to person. Everyone can attest to this. This is the beauty of thousands of years of evolution and cultural development, which makes us human. Not everyone wants, needs or likes the same things.
INTERVIEW: RUAN SCOTT
PHOTOGRAPHY: OLIVER KRUGER
It’s what sets us apart in the animal kingdom. Or does it? This is a gross simplification of how humans obtained their intellectual capacity, but essentially we are all empathetically bound through these shared experiences and desires. No matter how apathetic you want to be about it.
It’s in these differences that the art of Lady Skollie has become contested. It pisses some off, turns others on, shocks us as consumers and arouses questions about the originality of her content and impact of the shock value she creates.
Lady Skollie: “Art is there to make you feel uncomfortable. Or at least push you to places in your own experiences where you can relate. Judging by social media and current media, actually putting clothes on might be the next shock value movement. I think it covers the uncertainty of being in your late 20s, the challenges of becoming an adult. Fears and anxiety associated with becoming your own person.”
Lady Skollie is in the business of painting dicks and vaginas. Not necessarily better than others she says but her context is more thought provoking. According to her, her parents try hard to understand her art. I think copious numbers of people try to understand and relate to her art. But what is so mentally daunting about her work she currently produces as a visual artist?
Well, it’s not the easiest thing to swallow when you are confronted by obscure sex scenes and images of evocative females licking a banana-penis protruding from a sea of leaves shaped like vaginas. Or, this same female image fanned across a bed of bananas while being sexually stimulated by the fruit.
However, Lady Skollie’s work undoubtedly compels us to look, think, question, critique and then blush. One is left with a sense of juvenile fear when confronted with her work. Fear to acknowledge those primal instincts and urges we have. And fear to fill those urges and desires with sexual fantasies.
A self portrait of her wearing a dog collar at her recent solo exhibition (PVA paint on Fabriano, 2015) at Black Box Gallery in Cape Town aims to shed some light on her and her work.
“I was a very hyperactive child, with parents that were averse to things like Ritalin. There are photographs of me as a 4 year-old, dressed with a pretty leather harness and leash. It might seem bad to some, but to me, I always enjoyed the feeling of the leash, and the feeling of ‘big-girl’ it gave me. So I guess it’s a bit of childhood nostalgia perversely paired with a bondage penchant”.
Lady Skollie is the alter ego of Laura Windvogel. The pseudonym has commanded many creative ventures in the past. Fashion blogging and photography to radio host and now visual art. She created it some time ago to explore subject matters like sex, relationships, lust and greed through art. She says:
“Art was there before all of those things. Exploring different facets of what you love enables you to gradually edit out the ones that you are weaker in. I still do freelance content production (basically giving publications ideas on what to write about), do some voice-over work and write for money when I have a chance. Reinvention is the key to relevance. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. My weakness is procrastination, but as a pseudo snob, I enjoy the finer things in life, thus I needed to weed out those bad habits early on. I also have a problem with authority, so working for myself, and more importantly, earning a living doing what I love, has always been the only option.”
Lady Skollie is indeed a sassy and street-smart individual who might just be using sex to sell her name. As she says: “It’s business with a layer of art.”
Words painted alongside the murals she did in early 2015 on the walls of the entrance hall in the Stevenson gallery read: “The only reason why I predominantly paint papayas and bananas is to highlight the fear I have inside relating to my unrealistic expectations of sexual and romantic encounters between men and woman.” Not that this makes much sense to me or de-hazes the nebulous nature of the themes in her art. Am I emotionally inept as a male to grasp these complex topics of gender roles in society depicted by her art?
“As a woman you think of gender more often, I’m sure of it. We’re expected to play many roles, no questions asked.”
It’s this argument of gender roles that can be attributed as the main artery throughout her body of work.
I first took note of you when you released the ‘zine ‘Kaapstad Kinsey’ in 2013 (the named based on the Kinsey Scale of sexuality). A confessional piece of street literature where people spoke about their sex- and dating lives. Some anonymous entries, some not. “It shows the varying degrees of comfortability people in society have with their own sexuality. Her dating and love advice to a teenage Lady Skollie?
“Stay as sassy as you are. But don’t get so comfortable in these relationships; these men play no part in your future glory. So nip it in the bud.”
At face value her art seems smitten with promiscuity. Something considered contradictory as she is in a steady relationship.
Does she feel that a singularity like a homogeneous relationship is untrue to what she is depicting?
“This question in itself is problematic” she says. “It shows why sexually liberated women face so many struggles from media and society. My art promotes self-sexual knowledge, placing emphasis on knowing yourself sexually, putting your own needs first and cutting the bullshit. If a rapper is talking about all the pussies he’s been popping in da klerb, we don’t ask him questions about promiscuity. We ask him how he’s dealing with all life’s cheap distractions. When sexual liberation is perceived with a woman in control it is seen as promiscuous”.
This brings me to her view on the relevance of art in this modern age:
“It isn’t. Art isn’t relevant in the 21st century. The digital age has taken over, with us scrolling distracted and endlessly into nothingness. We need art to remind us of other methods of distraction.”
Does she feel undermined, disrespected, or neglected as a female and a female artist in South Africa?
“I think as a woman, you often feel all those things; not only in South Africa, or as an artist.”
Is she using her art to hide something or process certain emotions coupled with sex and sexuality?
“All of the above. Sometimes if I paint a picture I don’t really need to experience it in reality, right..?”
She claims her disliking for the conventional fine art structure has brought her to where she is today. She says she has always represented herself outside of the gallery structure, thus allowing her the freedom to collaborate and participate in any kind of project deemed suitable. Working outside of this structure also means it’s easy to create one’s own platforms according to her.
Motivated by the fear of disappointing herself and amused by people who know themselves, Lady Skollie makes and expresses herself and her message through visual art often using the medium water colour on fabriano. Delicate and soft colours are masterfully blended within images that transcend her take on her own sexual fantasies and desires. And even if you are offended, aroused and intrigued by her content you can easily appreciate her craft as an artist with a fine command of the paintbrush.
Seeing Lady Skollie it is clear that she has a different fashion sense, always on the forefront of street styles and local alternative wear. She attributes this to “meeting different people, experiencing life and definitely shaking her 25 year-old ignorance”.
Are we on the cusp of a sexual liberation as a group of twenty-plussers mediated by the Art of Lady Skollie? Who knows? We need to define what sexual liberation means to us as the individual. To her it means: “knowing what you want and familiarizing yourself with your own desire”.
Is sex still relevant in our generation’s perception of art? She answers: “Whether it’s in art or anything else, sex will always be relevant. Sex and eating are the two acts that remind us that at the end of the day, we’re animals. So it’ll always be relevant.
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