(1966 – )

Christine Dixie
Contemporary
Overview

When my daughter was five years old, the same age as Princess Margaret Theresa in the painting Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, I became obsessed with the painting. Indeed it was because my daughter was the same age, and with her long, blond hair bore a passing resemblance to the princess, that this compulsion began.

The Astronomer, the Princess and The Order of Things is the latest response to this painting in an ongoing project that began ten years ago. The multi-media installation, To Be King (2014) which re-imagines the court of King Philip IV in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, was my first engagement. This was followed by the exhibition The Santiago Cross: Invisible Trade (2015). More recently the exhibition Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things (2022) features the princess as a conduit for both creativity and disorder.

The moving and insightful essay by Professor Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, ‘The Dog in the Night: Christine Dixie’s Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things’, is a response to the exhibition and also includes a reference to the latest body of work The Astronomer. It is these two bodies of work Blueprint for the Disorder of Things and The Astronomer which make up this most recent exhibition. The Astronomer consists of collages and cyanotypes, each of the characters that appear in the painting Las Meninas is given an alternative identity, an identity that is part fiction and part drawn from historical references.

In Velázquez,’s painting ‘otherness’ is highlighted in the figure of the macrocephalous dwarf Maribarbola. In many portraits of dynastic children throughout Europe, the royal child was deliberately placed against the figure of a dwarf, thereby emphasizing, and making visible the hereditary right of royal lineage.

In my re-vision, Maribarbola becomes an astronomer, the character who has far-sighted vision. Instead of her place on the periphery of the painting, her status is reconfigured by making her the title character to this series. She is the one character that can see beyond the hierarchical, restrictive, and constructed charade that lies at the heart of the court and by extension, humankind. It is the dwarf-astronomer Maribarbarola who, looking through her telescope at worlds beyond the scope of the earth-bound court, moves to the foreground in this latest exhibition, The Astronomer, the Princess, and The Order of Things.

Biography

Born in Cape Town in 1996. Dixie obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of the Witwatersrand. Following this, she completed both her post-graduate degree and her Master’s in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town.

Dixie is an established South African artist, who has regularly exhibited in South Africa, the US, and Europe. She is primarily a printmaker, but her art also finds expression through films or elaborate installations.

Her work challenges the ways gender roles have been historically conditioned by society, myths, and image-making. The manifestation of the colonial history that haunts the town of Makhanda, (the Eastern Cape city where she lives) has compelled her preoccupation with Europe’s legacy in Africa. Her practice and aesthetic rely on archival imagery and in-depth research.

Her work is included in national and international collections including The Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany, The New York Public Library, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, The Standard Bank Gallery, The Johannesburg Art gallery, The Durban Art Gallery, the Iziko National Museum of South Africa, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum of Art.

International group shows include Earth Matters: Earth as Material and Metaphor curated by Dr. Karen Milbourne (2007) and The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell Revisited by Contemporary African Artists curated by Simon Njami (2012), both of which opened at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art. Her installation To Be King was part of the Personal Structures exhibited at Palazzo Bembo in Venice (2017) and was shown at the International Festival at the Coronet Cinema in London and the Kaunas in Art Festival in Lithuania (2018) and the Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany (2022).

Recent exhibitions include, @ Bathurst St, Makhanda at the Gallery of the SARChi chair at the University of Johannesburg and her series of prints Harbouring Fanon at the Graham Contemporary Gallery (2022). The blueprint for her exhibition The DisOrder of Things, which opened in April 2022 at the Wits Art Museum, is a body of work that continues themes that are linked to her To Be King installation and The Astronomer, The Princess, and The Order of Things.

Education

1984
Matriculated, International Baccalaureate Waterford Khamhlaba, Swaziland

1988
Batchelors of Arts in Fine Art, The University of the Witwatersrand.

1990
Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts, The University of Cape Town

1993
Master’s in Fine Art, The University of Cape Town

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS 

2022 The Astronomer, The Princess and The Order of Things, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa

2022 To Be King, Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth, Germany

2022 @Bathurst St,. Makhanda, SARChi chair in SA Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

2022 Blueprint for the DisOrder of Things, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa

2018 The Santiago Cross: Invisible Trade, The Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, South Africa

2017 Colonising Foucault’s Las Meninas, Sulger-Buel-Lovell Gallery, London, Great Britain

2017 To Be King, Coronet Cinema International Fair, London, Great Britain

2010 The Binding, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg, South Africa

2008 Parturient Prospects, Gallery AOP, Johannesburg, South Africa

2007 Corporeal Prospects/ Christine Dixie 1993 – 2007, The Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

2002 Hide, The Millennium II Gallery, Johannesburg 

Hide, The U.S. Gallery, Stellenbosch

Hide, The Albany Museum, Grahamstown

2000 Track, The Market Theatre Gallery, Johannesburg

1997 FrontTears, The Thompson Gallery, Johannesburg, 

FrontTears, Ibis Art Centre, Nieu Bethesda

GROUP EXHIBITIONS 

2022 A New Wave Group Exhibition, Graham Contemporary, Johannesburg, South Africa

2022 TenX10, Wits Art Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa

2021 Broken Vessels, Interface, Connemara, Ireland

2019 Page Turners, Gallery OED, Cochin, Kerala, India

2019 Converting the Land, University of Johannesburg Art Gallery, South Africa

2018 Kaunas in Art, So Close, So Far, M. Zilinskas Art Museum, Kaunas, Lithuania

2018 Watershed: Art, Science and Elemental Politics, The Origins Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

2017 Trop Comprehende, Sulger Buel-Lovell Gallery, London, Great Britain

2017 Personal Structures – Open Borders, European Cultural Foundation at Palazzo Bembo, Venice, Italy

2016 Home Truths, Iziko National Gallery of South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

2016 Passage – Southern Hemisphere International Printmaking Exhibition, Jincheon Print Museum, South Korea

2015 U/Topia, Wiener Festwochen Exhibition, Vienna

2014 The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell from the Perspective of Contemporary African Artists, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., USA

2014 The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell from the Perspective of Contemporary African Artists, Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia, USA

2014 Conversations: African and American Artworks in Dialogue, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., USA

2012 Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., USA

2011 Celebrating Twenty Women Artists, French Consular Residence

2010 The Lie of the Land: Representations of South African Landscape, Iziko Michaelis Collection, Cape Town

2010 Transformations: Women’s Art from the Late Nineteenth Century to 2010, Johannesburg Art Gallery

2010 1910 – 2010: From Pierneef to Gugulective, Iziko National Museum of South Africa

2009 To Those Lost, Albany History Museum, Grahamstown

2008 About Face, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum

2005 Landscape in Transit, U.S. Gallery, Stellenbosch]

2004 Through the Looking Glass, The Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg

2004 Resistance, Reconstruction and Reconciliation: MTN’s Decade of Democracy, Pretoria Art Gallery, Pretoria

2004 Cross Cultural Identities, South African Museum, Cape Town

2004 Then and Now: Prints Before and After the Demise of Apartheid, South African National Gallery, Cape Town

2000 Egazini, the Battle of Grahamstown, The Albany History Museum, Grahamstown

COLLOQUIUM PRESENTATIONS AND ARTISTS TALKS

  • Unpacking ‘Blueprint for the Disorder of Things’, Wallenberg Research Centre, STIAS Seminar Series, 13 August 2020
  • Collaborating on ‘Blueprint for the Disorder of Things’, UJ Research Centre, Webinar Series, 6 October 2020
  • Below the Sediments, Watershed:  Art, Science and Elemental Politics, University of the Witwatersrand, 10 – 21 September 2018
  • The Making of To Be a King, M. Zilinskas Museum, Kaunas, Lithuania, 10 November 2018
  • The Making of To Be a King, Coronet Cinema, London, 1 November 2017
  • Sedimented Significations in ‘To Be King’, Eighth International Conference on the Image, San Servolo, Venice, 31 October – 1 November 2017
  • Binding Materiality and Intertextuality in The Binding, Booknesses Book Arts Colloquium, University of Johannesburg, 8 – 12 March 2017
  • Wrapping Johannesburg – A Boxing Story, Conference: Performing Jozi, Johannesburg, 2015
  • Unravelling Depictions of the Eastern Cape Frontier Landscape, The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C., 2014
Collections

WORK IN PUBLIC ART COLLECTIONS

  • The New York Public Library, New York
  • The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C.
  • The Fowler Museum, UCLA
  • The Iziko National Museum of South Africa, Cape Town
  • The Johannesburg National Art Gallery, Johannesburg
  • The Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg
  • The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum, Gqeberha
  • University of Cape Town Art Collection, Cape Town
  • Rhodes University Art Collection, Grahamstown
  • UNISA Art Gallery Collection, Pretoria
  • University of Stellenbosch Art Collection, Stellenbosch
  • Sasol Art Collection, Cape Town
  • MTN Art Collection, Johannesburg
Awards

2020 STIAS Residency, Stellenbosch, South Africa

2012 The Smithsonian Artist in Residence Fellowship, Washington D.C. 

2007 Merit Bonus Award – Rhodes University

1999 Merit Award: 4th Kochi International: Triennial Exhibition of Prints, Japan

1998 New York Residency, Ampersand

1993 Winner: Katrine Harris Print Cabinet Post-Graduate Purchase Award

1990 Winner: Katrine Harris Print Cabinet Post-Graduate Purchase Award

1998 Prize winner: New Signatures Exhibition

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