Run With The Wolves – an exhibition featuring five contemporary women artists – explores mythology, identity, gender and sexuality through figuration as the central motif. The show takes its title
Run With The Wolves – an exhibition featuring five contemporary women artists – explores mythology, identity, gender and sexuality through figuration as the central motif. The show takes its title from the book Women who Run with the Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. A Jungian analyst and storyteller, Estés uses multicultural myths and fairy tales as ‘psychic archaeological digs’ to access what she refers to as the ruins of the female unconscious. The exhibition reflects on how five women artists access their own memory and experiences – conscious and subconscious – to express the contemporary experience.
Natalia Gonzalez Martin works on a small scale, using traditional painting techniques that draw their influence from Christian religious iconography and medieval illuminated manuscripts, informed by her Spanish customs and heritage. Predominantly working with the female figure, she uses minutely detailed brushstrokes to paint intimate corners of the female body – the curves of the neck, the ear, the toes – creating an erotic tension between desire and the forbidden.
Shailee Mehta works extensively with elements of figuration and embodiment, situating the female body as a central agential subject in her explorations around femininity and visibility. Her work is descriptive of a poetics of space where elements of the interior and the exterior blend into each other, giving her protagonists an unsettling ‘untamed’ appearance. Rooted in the female gaze, her figures subvert patriarchal tropes, and the narratives of looking and being looked at take up multiple meanings such as desire, contemplation or rejection.
Sola Olulode’s paintings are nuanced and tender visions of intimacy and community; her wistful images celebrations of Black identity, womxnhood and non-binary people. Distinguished by their use of gestural brushwork, indigo dye, wax, oil bar, impasto and monochromatic schemes, they speak strongly of her Nigerian heritage. Allowing the body to take centre stage, she creates utopian scenes which give prominence to movement, gesture, and romanticised acts; her works exposing a unique tenderness and a fluid ability of bringing to life representation and visibility of Black Queer lived experiences.
Wawi Navarroza works in photography and employs her own figure to create formal staged compositions in large tableau vivant format. In her Tropical Gothic series she reconstructs and rediscovers herself amongst layers of disparate objects rendered in eccentric and vibrant colours. Following in the tradition of other female artists (Frida Kahlo, Mickalene Thomas and Cindy Sherman) who use history, appropriation, and citation as a form of cultural critique, these self-portraits reference a shared condition among women across time and space, history and geography.
Saelia Aparicio’s practice finds inspiration from classical mythology and transformative hybrid forms between animals and humans, such as the sphinx, Anubis or the Mayan Camazotz. Her wall tapestries – a collaboration with fashion designer Craig Green – feature a series of folk-inspired portraits that deliver an expressive take on the human form. Completely imagined and very specific in their gender fluidity, they draw from the ‘two-spirited’ idea that comes from Indigenous North American culture. From conceptual nature-inspired motifs like parts of walnut trees and poison ivy, the hand-stitched artworks showcase an imaginative mashup of ancient anatomical diagrams and contemporary art.
Image caption: Wawi Navarroza, May in Manila/Hot Summer, 2019. Archival pigment print on Hahnemühle, cold-mounted on acid-free aluminum, 135.38 × 101.6 cm. Edition of 5 plus 2 AP
Courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi
November 30 (Tuesday) - March 1 (Tuesday)
Unit 21, Alserkal Avenue, Al-Quoz 1, Dubai, UAE