Patrick Charles Kemball, better known in art circles as ManWoman, passed away in November 2012 at the age of 74. To say that his passing marked the end of a life dedicated to the rehabilitation of the swastika is but a pat summation, given the fact that he had the symbol tattooed all over his body. Very few artists commit to this kind of performance. ManWoman was among the last of them.
Heart of Longing, a collection of ManWomans audacious paintings, sculptures and related objects, comes a quarter-century after his first exhibition at Stride in 1989. Not much changed in the artists oeuvre after that show: the swastika continues to both dominate and confuse his works, no matter how many intermediate colours and soft lines he employs to remind us of its primordial holistic power.
In preparation for that first Stride exhibition, ManWoman reminded audiences that the Nazis use of the swastika was only about 10 to 12 years, compared to the thousands of years the swastika has been around. Too bad the artist is no longer around to remind us of that today.