“The fact that we live in a patriarchal society that wants to make things great again doesn’t help the representation of female artists. Having said this, the acknowledgment of women artists especially since the 1960s has been rapidly growing. The artist and theoris, Hito Steryl was ranked 1st place on Art Review’s Power 100 last year, and Lubaina Himid was the first woman of colour to win the Turner Prize (2017). Both of these are an inspiration for all women in the arts.”
– Huma Kabakcı, email interview, 20th February 2018
Ladies’ Paradise is an all-female exhibition curated by Huma Kabakcı & Nadja Romain located in the intriguing setting of Grace Belgravia, a women’s medical centre and spa in London’s West End.
The exhibition brings drawings, paintings, sculpture and textile work together to explore ‘notions of femininity, the female body, society, gender and identity politics’. These bringing together of work by women artists pertains to the present time when we are all reassessing and readdressing how one is to respond to patriarchies that still continue to speak for and on behalf of women everywhere. Art, of course, has always played an important part in giving visibility to female artists and continued lack of equality in gender representations. Works on display include delicate and ethereal sewn textiles by Güneş Terkol’s titled World Montage (2016), and particularly striking here are ceramic pots that take on nude forms by Clementine Keith-Roach with Vault(2017), Merve İşeri Thoughts (2017) abstract body form painting and Sofai Stevi’s Boy (2017) drawing.
Whilst the exhibition is inspired by Émile Zola’s novel titled Au Bonheur des Dames, which takes place in a department store in the mid19th century and considers modernisation of the store alongside different roles played by women in and out of its walls, the artists showing at Grace Belgravia are also considering these ever-shifting roles in the setting of a women’s only members club which in the context of London (and the UK) is historically ‘boy’s only’ that will now be open to everyone for the show’s duration. This statement by the curators Kabakcı and Romain, alongside all of the artists shown is chance to celebrate female artists, whilst at the same time, think through how women collaborate critique, and work together in the art world today.
Ladies’ Paradise is organised by Open Space Contemporary & Everything I Want and is on view at Grace Belgravia until 8 April 2018.
Featured image: Merve İşeri, Extremity (2017), 130 x 170 x 6 cm, Oil, pastel and spray paint on unprimed canvas, Courtesy the artist and ballon rouge