Naturally, that freshness of approach can apply to pretty much any area of art and life. Just so, the artists have been loosely grouped as addressing portraiture, sex, the interface between the human and the natural, how the world can form the basis for abstraction, and other aspects of everyday life. All the artists happen to be female or non-binary. That can be taken as an opportunity to rectify the historic and indeed still current position whereby male artists have been more frequently shown in galleries and more highly valued in the market. The curators do see the composition of the show as a chance to demonstrate that, whatever the reasons might be for the under-representation of women, it is nothing to do with lack of quality. Yet this a show which moves beyond making a point of that to provide an opportunity to generate connections and conversations across their many lively practices.
The five topic areas, then, reflect female perspectives. ‘Woman Portrays Woman’ features radical depictions through which women create their own self-sufficient world, reflect on bodily experience or counteract the historical expectations of female roles. Caroline Walker focuses on women within psychologically charged public spaces. Helena Parada Kim muses on the factors behind personal identity in an internationalised world. Katherine Bradford's characters dive into mysterious journeys. Vivian Greven finds personal intimacy in a combination of classical, pop and digital registers. Rosa Loy has a folkloric vision for strengthening the role of women in society. Yu Jinyoung reveals the emptiness of her character's lives by making them transparent.
‘Woman and Sex’ is similarly assertive and uninhibited. Sarah Slappey combines lush fantasy with dark self-horror. Corinne von Lebusa’s characters tease the voyeuristic viewer. Rosie Gibbens’ films display a brazen and pointed conjunction of sex and humour. Aurora Reinhard cuts through classical myth and popular culture to present herself as a counter to one-dimensional views of women.
‘Woman Meets Nature’ examines how human can identify with the natural and animal and the metaphorical potential that creates. Rose Wylie stretches her distinctive worldview into a snake ten canvasses long. Won Kyung Lee merges vegetable, animal and human attributes. Katherine Bernhardt's pictographic animals take flight through electric colours and humming shapes. Annie Morris's work courses with life across several media. Wanda Koop investigates, she says, 'the contemporary understanding of Landscape, in particular as a vehicle for addressing cultural encroachment upon and destruction of the so called natural world'.
‘Woman Abstracting’ presents artists who move away from naturalism yet retain telling connections to the real world from which they are abstracting. Camilla Løw plays games with constructivist and Bauhaus sources. Ina Gerken gives a fresh context to Abstract Expressionist language. Cornelia Baltes makes us wonder how far her abstraction has really gone. Martine Poppe openly conceals emotion behind form. Jenny Brosinski's deconstructions of painterly language constitute a a fleeting encounter with 'what if ?'
And ‘Woman in the World’ sees personal meet political and private meet public across a wide cross-section of life concerns. Urara Tsuchiya’s uninhibited ceramics challenge us to decide where our boundaries are between public and private. Emma Cousin's women act out the comedy of how the body works. Caroline Wells Chandler queers art history to turn the straight, masculine tradition of painting into ambiguously-gendered figures made with the ‘women’s craft’ of crochet. Johanna Reich considers how the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’ influence each other - and our view of women.
Consistent with the artists’ general unwillingness to be constrained by boundaries, there is plenty of crossover. That makes sense: when girl meets girl, they speak to each other through the many ideas in play.
WOMAN PORTRAYS WOMAN
Somersault, 2018 - Acrylic on canvas, 182.9 × 139.7 cm
Tub Under Planet, 2018 - Acrylic on canvas, 203.2 × 172.7 cm
Trophies, 2018 - Acrylic on canvas, 203.2 × 172.7 cm
Katherine Bradford’s elusively anonymous figures are engaged in off-kilter sporting activities: what looks like assisted acrobatics, night-boat racing and a multi-cup award ceremony for the faceless. All use a recent palette of moody pinks and blues, in which the shadowless light and floating lack of perspective are more enchanted than real. Bradford is 78, but retains a positively girlish freshness in her application of paint, which seems pretty relaxed about whether the intent of a particular mark is figurative or abstract. And though one can read psychological possibilities into her characters and their curious interactions, my sense is that the paint, rather than its narrative, is what matters most to her. Bradford favours acrylic. The fluorescent colours and watery textures suit her dreamy washes, the undercurrents of which in her words – ‘serve as a metaphor for whatever we’re floating on, and jumping into, and travelling through’. Freud read water as the subconscious, and that air of mysterious inner journeying remains when Bradford’s characters reach dry land or high air.
Sensual Intelligence, 2010 - Casein on canvas, 130 x 170 cm
the LIFE #3, 2017 - Poly vinyl chloride, Fibre-reinforced plastic, 160 (H) x 42 (W) x 20 (D) cm
WOMAN AND SEX
Lonely Fiancee, 2019 Mixed media on cardboard, 40 x 30 cm
Whoever comes in is inside #14, 2018 - Mixed media on cardboard, 40 x 30 cm
'What a pleasure it is', says Rosa Loy of her Leipzig sister-in-art, to see an obviously figural, i.e. real, world presented in such an unreal way. It is up to us to project our own being onto this unreality. Here the artist offers us a creative sphere in which philosophy, artificiality, reality, femininity and science are able to create something new through chemical union'. Corrine von Lebusa conjures characters we seem to have stumbled on unawares, but so charming is her use of watercolour, oil paints, crayons, various inks and diverse varnishes, it is hard to feel troubled by out potentially inappropriate presence, even though they don't always seem happy. A more recent series shows women in striped leotards tumbling and stretching together. They seem more aware of - and playing up to - the viewer as they peer cheekily between their own legs. These jesting characters seem, like the paintings, to be teasing us but just beyond our ability to pin down quite what it's about.
Portrait by Carina Linge
High Rider, 2020, bronze, 24 carat gold plate, 24 x 12,5 x 4 cm
Artist & Curator, 2017, 3d resin color print, 17 x 17 x 14 cm, ed. 2/3
Annie Morris (works to be included not yet finalised)
Keeping Knix, 2019 - oil on canvas, 190 x 170 cm
61 x 56 cm
Blue Wave, 2018 - Hand crocheted assorted fibres, 244 x 503 cm
Still from Ethics of Coding, 2019