17th March - 22nd April
For her first exhibition with Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, Lisa Brice has populated the space with portraits of women – a fascinating, anonymous army of them, rendered in a marine blue gouache.
Caught in private or performative poses and states of varying undress, on the surface the paintings conform to art historical traditions associated with the female nude. However, these figures dominate their indistinct domestic interiors with their sexuality and are strong and intoxicating en masse. The everyday rituals of the home are implied with the forms of tiles and curtains, but are inverted and pervaded with a dark tension.
Brice’s women are familiar and yet anonymous; smoking, reclining, dressing, performing and observing. Part abstract, part figurative, their uniform colour adds to their surreal and cinematic impact, as does the repetition of both pose and character throughout the exhibition. Characters from paintings as well as from the media and everyday life reappear throughout, as though performing in different scenes of a play or moving between windows in and out of view.
Brice's viewer is an outsider, but also an important and acknowledged participant in the scene. A sexuality of vision is implied as we watch these women pulling up their stockings, and reclining in the nude. However, the traditional gendered gaze of art history referred to by the cast of characters that appear in the work (from works by Manet, Balthus and Degas to name just a few) is addressed and subverted as the women look back at us, and stray from their traditional roles. The female presence in the paintings is complex and unnerving, as though a rebellion is brewing. Preferring to confer and smoke, and watch or enjoy being watched than exist as passive objects of pleasure, the exhibition highlights the act of viewing as a central theme in Brice's work.
All images: Untitled 2017 by Lisa Brice (c) Lisa Brice, Courtesy: Lisa Brice and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London