Witches is a exhibition of new paintings by Olga Esther. It is her tribute to women throughout history who have been accused of witchcraft.
While Esther enjoys something of the stereotype of witches dressed in black with cats and brooms and indeed includes something of that in this exhibition, she wanted to go further, including all those other, real women who have been forgotten behind the iconic image of what we understand as witches today.
The Witch Hunt was a huge persecution of women led by the civil and ecclesiastical powers. Current research estimates that between the mid-15th and mid-18th centuries, in Europe and America alone, more than 100,000 people were accused of witchcraft, humiliated, imprisoned and tortured, and more than 60,000 were brutally executed. They were accused of being bad, ugly, demonic or wicked or of being a lover of Satan, defender of evil, servant of the Devil or eater of children.
Eighty percent of all of the accused were women. They were healers, midwives, herbalists, scholars, pious women, heretics, rebellious women, widows, peasants, poor or old women or simply women who lived alone. As explained in the treatise Malleus Maleficarun (1487, The Witch's Hammer), women, having ‘a weak mental capacity,’ were more likely to be seduced by the Devil and succumb to evil. This treatise became the standard manual for the persecution of witches.
In fact, although this may seem to be an issue of the past, the truth is that we are experiencing a new witch hunt. Thousands of women are being persecuted and accused of witchcraft in many countries in Africa, as well as India, Nepal, China and Papua New Guinea. And although the witch hunt was and is a campaign of terror against women, we cannot deny that it is sometimes made invisible by reducing it to a mere myth or legend predominated by a folkloric representation.
Olga Esther paints using the “princess-tales” symbology to address gender and feminism. She paints the all those who do not have anyone in this world.
Esther lives and works in Valencia, Spain. A graduate of fine arts from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, she also holds a master‘s degree in video games.