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Biography of Jane ALEXANDER

South Africa > Arts : Jane ALEXANDER

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Biography :

Jane Alexander ( 1959), is a South African artist.
Her work has been presented internationally, including at the 1995 Venice Biennale, the seventh Habana Bienale, and in The Short Century. Alexander is a member of the teaching staff at the Michaelis School of Fine Arts in Kapstadt, where she lives and works. She is the recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Sculpture 2002.
Jane Alexander is a sculptor whose works comment on current socio­political issues in South Africa.

Jane Alexander was born in Johannesburg in 1959. From a very young age she started showing great artistic talent, and is now one of South Africa's most acknowledged sculptors. She studied at the University of Witwatersrand and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art degree in 1982. That same year, she was the winner of the National Fine Arts Student Competition as well as the Martienssen Student Prize. In 1988 she completed her Masters in Fine Art. She had initially started her degree majoring in painting, but eventually changed to sculpture as she found it much more appealing and realized that she was more suited to it. At university, Alexander was exposed to information about the political situation in South Africa through students' underground organizations and activities, and this contributed greatly to her work. When growing up in the suburbs, Alexander had been shielded from everyday police- and street violence. However, when she moved to city of Braamfontein in order to be closer to her university, she was faced with reality and was directly confronted with these aspects of society. At the same time, the political situation in the 1970's was changing, and black consciousness had become very noticeable - the 1976 Soweto uprising had been an eye-opener for many people. Despite the fact that Alexander, herself, was not politically active and did not contribute to the struggle in any way, her work was extremely influenced by the socio-political situation in South Africa at the time. Her work clearly responds to the violence in South Africa during these years, and because of this she is seen as one of West Coast African Angel, '85 the most important artists of the Resistance.

In 1995 Jane Alexander was the winner of the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Fine Art. This award is given to people who are acknowledged as being important artists within the South African art scene. In 1996 she was the joint winner of the First National Bank Artist of the Year award with Kevin Brand. Probably her most famous piece, "The Butcher Boys, 1985", is in permanent exhibition at the South African National Gallery, and is the most popular contemporary piece in the collection.
Her work is always related to the human figure as she is interested in anatomy as a form of expression. Because of the fact that her figures are life-sized, they have an amazing presence and create a dramatic impression. In 2002, she won the DaimlerChrysler award for exceptional artistic achievement.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including National Fine Arts Student Competition Award (1982), Standard Bank Young Artist Award (1995) and FNB Vita Art Now Award (1996). Her works have been exhibited internationally.

Last update : 10/17/2008

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