Art Now: Lisa Brice

Art Now: Lisa Brice

From April 26 to August 27, 2018, Tate Britain, London will present Art Now featuring works by South African contemporary artist Lisa Brice.

On show at Tate for the first time, Lisa Brice’s work includes large-scale new and recent paintings that address the long-standing art-historical tradition of the female nude. Shown alongside sketches, drawings and studies, her paintings recast female subjects from art historical paintings, photographs and the media into new environments, imbuing them with a newfound sense of self-possession.

Brice’s work depicts women, either alone or in groups, chatting, making themselves up, getting dresses, undressing or escaping the heat of the sun for a beer or a cigarette. Brice captures these women in moments of downtime, engaged in a private world, performing everyday rituals. In doing so, Brice reverses the traditional portrayal of passive female figures by male artists for male viewers and returns power to the women involved. Brice’s heroines are sometimes introspective, yet are never passive. They appear to display themselves on their own terms and for their own pleasure, forcing the viewer to confront their status as an intruder rather than a benign voyeur. Formal devices such as mirrors and windows contribute to the compelling sense of depth and space. The women’s poses often nod to art historical sources, such as the work of Degas, Manet, Picasso and Vallotton. Several paintings will draw on or respond to Tate’s collection, including a new work which takes the form of a resurrected version of John Everett Millais’ Ophelia.

Within her substantial body of work, Brice often makes use of a distinctive blue colour palette. This colour creates a sense of distance from the intimacy of the scene, as well as interrupting any obvious readings of the subject’s ethnicity. For Brice, the blue also evokes to the formidable “Blue Devil” Trinidadian carnival character. These masqueraders are emboldened by a coat of cobalt blue paint, masking their identities. Brice has spent extended periods of time living and working in Trinidad, following a workshop there in 1999 and a residency in 2000 and this ongoing relationship is frequently evident in her paintings.

Born in South Africa in 1968, Lisa Brice is now based in London, while maintaining strong ties to Trinidad. She studied at Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT where she majored in painting. Her first solo exhibition was held in 1993. She has exhibited in South Africa, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom and the United States.

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