SHē: Fierce and Feminine
At Launch LA
on view through September 29th
By Genie Davis
Curated by Elizabeth Tinglof, SHē is a powerful group exhibition on what it means to be a woman – and what society sees a woman to be. The show presents a variety of works in a wide range of media focusing on the implied standards of perfection for women, and the female body as both object and subject.
At Launch LA in mid-city through Sept. 29th, the show features the work of Kim Tucker, J Michael Walker, Douglas Tausik Ryder, Andrea Patrie, Deborah Martin,Cima Rahmankhah, Sara Alavikia, Kristine Schomaker, FLOAT (Kate Parsons & Ben Vance), Annelie Mckenzie, and Phung Huynh.
According to Tinglof, she first conceptualized the idea of the show in 2016, during her curatorial program at Sotheby’s in London. “One of the program objectives was to create a mock exhibition from top to bottom, and I was noticing that quite a few London artists were using historical references connected to portraying the female persona. Not just in painting, but in many mediums, so I suggested that we work with that as our concept. When I returned to LA, I wanted to see if the same imagery was occurring here. I began searching and then having studio visits, and I was fascinated to see that it was quite prevalent here as well.”
She adds “The use of the female form/persona is such an integral and iconic reference in not only art history but in modern culture. Contemporary artists are looking back to address poignant issues today. By using and yet altering these familiar images, it is creating a dialogue for what must still change as well as what has changed.”
For Tinglof, who spent almost two years finding the perfect pieces for the show, all of the works in the are deeply resonant. “The first piece I chose was Andrea Patrie’s ‘Homage Ingres,’ because I felt the anchor of the exhibition needed to be a reclining nude as the perfect iconic reference, but one that stripped away the traditional concept of the ‘gaze,’ positioning, and even traditional views of femaleness,” she says. The oil work has substantial physical depth, the paint seemingly carved into the canvas.
Tinglof was drawn to Phung Huynh’s ‘Three Graces’ which riffs on traditional “Chinatown” aesthetics, because the work “spoke to deconstructing ideas about beauty, specifically focusing on how plastic surgery westernizes the Asian female body.”
She notes that Deborah Martin’s ‘Elizabeth at Fourteen’ was chosen because her conversation used the history of painting and formal portraiture to talk about gender fluidity.” Elizabeth, an autistic child of fourteen, was already working towards transitioning from male to female when the artist painted the work.
“J. Michael Walker and Kristine Schomaker’s works on paper use nude photography from very different approaches, both revealing and exposed. Kristine was inspired by the beautiful curvy women of Reubens, and the gorgeous luscious bodies of Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud to create an autobiographical conversation in her piece, ‘Plus, A Private Residency,’” Tinglof asserts. Contained within the boundries of a rich ornante gold frame, the artist gives gravitas and beauty to her self-portrait nude. The flesh here glows, ample and divine. The work reveals perceptions of weight, shape, and excess through notions of history, objectification and control.
“J. Michael through his ‘Bodies Mapping Time’ series gave over 80 female artists of color and others who felt marginalized a way to feel empowered by deciding how they would like the world to see their image,” Tinglof notes.
Cima Rahmankhah’s “Ex Nihilo” series focuses on so-called neglected things. “By creating paintings that have a view of her feet, toes, and thighs, the images depicted are so flat they become abstract, and illustrate the body as the insignificant object and the luscious detailed fabric the subject.”
Tinglof’s selection of Annelie Mckenzie was based on the artist’s shaping of paintings which explore the feminine in art practice and art history. Here, she exhibits what appears to be a painting within a painting, an impressionistic landscape hung against a patterned painting of wall paper. The work is as layered as the concept of being female.
Among the sculptural works exhibited, Kim Tucker works in highly tactile ceramic forms. “Past Loves and Hates” is just one of many gorgeous sculptural works, bright with gold patterns, a two-headed creature that illustrates the idea of duality, and the divisions of the soul that those loves and hates can create. “From Everything and Now” gives us a woman with her arms upraised literally circling her. She appears strong, perched on a wall, and waiting. Other pieces are more whimsical.
Sara Alavikia offers works in wax and fabric to abstractly emulate the essence of what it feels like to be female with her “Beautiful Burden.” Her work is abloom, as if both floral and flesh. Douglas Tausik Ryder offers a substantial, rich, and voluptuous sculpture, “Myth of Beauty.” Tinglof describes this work as being about the intersection of universal human forms.
Float, the collaboration team Kate Parsons and Ben Vance – exhibit a video/AR piece that Tinglof says completes the connection between all the works. She describes it as “An overt example of contemporary artists working with modern technology to address antiquated ideas of what women have been and continue to be told” about how they should look and where their place should be in the world.
In this exhibition, their place is to shine. SHē closes Sept. 29th with a Artist Talk + Closing – Sat, Sept 29, 3 – 5pm
170 S. La Brea Ave., Upstairs
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6pm