Elizabeth Gunter (born 1957) studied Fine Art at Stellenbosch University, where she graduated with a BA degree in Visual Arts in 1978. She obtained Honours (1980) and Masters (1984) degrees in Fine Arts and a PhD degree in Visual Arts (2011) from the same university. She has lectured art at various institutions and is currently at the Visual Arts Department at Stellenbosch University, where she founded the DeCentre Drawing Project. She has had several solo exhibitions in the Western Cape, participated in numerous group exhibitions and her work is represented in private, corporate, and public collections both in South Africa and abroad.
In Fugitive Lives Elizabeth Gunter examines themes of duality within birth and death and the quiet violence imbued in the notion that the first step towards one’s death begins with birth. The exhibition juxtaposes exquisitely rendered large graphite and charcoal dust drawings with delicate small-scale sculptures cast in polyurethane, wax or silicone. This juxtaposition is extended into the thematic content of the works themselves through Gunter’s intimate depictions of animals such as the rhinoceros, elephant, and buffalo. Once fully grown, these animals have connotations to size, strength and might. Here however, they are depicted in the vulnerable foetal stages of their development, existing within a liminal pre-birth space. In this way, Gunter shifts dichotomies such as small/big, soft/hard, birth/death, beginning/end, weakness/strength and fleetingness/endurance to the point where their divisions become permeable membranes as opposed to impenetrable seals. Oppositional materialities become metaphors for immaterialities that drive our relationships with animals.