Fathema Bemath, born in 1971, spent the early years of her childhood around Diagonal Street, Johannesburg. The cosmopolitan landscape of Johannesburg town in the early 1970s piqued the curiosity of individuals with a deep appreciation for art. Fathema and her family relocated to Lenasia, a more insular society that considered art to be an indulgence, potentially subversive and anti-religion.
Since 1997 Bemath has owned and managed a successful dental laboratory. Through the years, Fathema’s love and appreciation for art was honoured by dabbling in pottery, interior design and drawing but never with the conviction it deserved. Rather it was a creative collaboration with the late Benon Lutaaya that sparked her career in sculpting.
Fathema enrolled at Wits Technikon on her parents’ instruction to either study dental technology or get married. She graduated in 1993, as the only woman and person of colour in her class.
Fathema Bemath creates sculptural female forms that represent the diversity of women within the racial, cultural, ethnic and experiential contexts. Bemath considers the power of art in highlighting the struggles that women endure, both overt and nuanced, that are in relation to normalised power dynamics of misogyny and (hetero)patriarchy. Bemath constructs sculptures of the female form to combat the male gaze and Western beauty standards that depict women from a one-dimensional perspective. To Bemath, sculpture-making serves to reclaim stolen agency of those who are looked at, granting dignity and resilience, while elucidating the profound impact of reductions of gendered complexity and multi-dimensionality.
Fathema Bemath was placed in the Top 20 for the Thami Mnyele art competition in 2021.
- 2021: Women in Art Catalogue, MStudio Community (one of seven women chosen to showcase contemporary work celebrating women in art. Artists included Sue Martin, Lyndi Sales and Usha Seejarim
- 2021: Turbine Art Fair
- 2021:Star Gazer Gallery, group exhibition
- 2022: RMB Salom Collectibles with Teresa Lizamore
- 2022: ‘Finding Form’, group exhibition withMeta Foundation
- 2022: Clarins Art Festival
- 2022: ‘Wasomi Experience’, Nirox Sculpture Park
- 2022: Origin Art – ‘The Body In The World’, Keyes Art Mile
- 2022: Cacophony, group exhibition, Lizamore
- 2023: ‘Reflecting Forward’, group exhibition, Artyli Gallery
- 2023: Origin Art, group exhibition, RMB Latitudes