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Charleston Presents a New Series of Work by Lisa Brice

Charleston Presents a New Series of Work by Lisa Brice-Omenka Online

Charleston will reopen in Spring 2021 with a presentation of new work by South African artist Lisa Brice. The exhibition will form part of a season at Charleston addressing the historic relationship between artist and model and will be shown alongside the first major retrospective of the work of Nina Hamnett.

For her solo exhibition at Charleston, Brice will present a new series of works on paper that continues her ongoing interest in challenging traditional depictions of the female nude. Her paintings and works on paper contest the often-misogynistic nature of art historical figuration – typically painted by white men for white men – by taking ownership over how women are portrayed.

Acknowledging the parameters of art history, Brice’s works echo iconic compositions by artists such as Vallotton, Degas, Manet and Picasso but lend their protagonists agency and self-possession. Her interiors draw on the artist’s personal experience from living and working between South Africa, London and Trinidad over the past 20 years. Repudiating the gaze of the viewer, formal devices such as mirrors, smoke and metal grilles veil her subjects. Examining notions of liminality, Brice’s works often play with doorways to emphasise the immediacy of our encounter with her muses as we address them face-to-face. The artist is interested in such threshold spaces where transitional states of being come into play; interior and exterior, public and private, artist and model. Her use of cobalt and Prussian blue in these works obscures the naturalistic skin tones of the body to further discourage an easy ‘read’ of the female form.

Discussing the women depicted in her new works, Brice explains “that there is no hierarchy between artist and model, as is generally implied in historical studio scenes of male painters and their female models; they are all on their own time, whether active or paused, in contemplation or in conversation with one another. Nude and clothed figures are interchangeable, and the active and the passive are similarly equal in status within the scene. They are all artists at work in one way or another.”

Lisa Brice was born in 1968 in Cape Town, South Africa, and grew up during a particularly volatile time in the country’s history. In 1998, she travelled to London for a residency at Gasworks Studios. In 1999, she was invited to undertake a workshop in Trinidad and a subsequent residency alongside local and international artists including Peter Doig, Chris Ofili and Emheyo Bahabba (Embah).

In 2018, she held a solo exhibition at Tate Britain, London as part of their Art Now series. A major institutional exhibition by the artist opened at KM21, The Hague in November 2020.

Accompanying Brice’s exhibition will be a new text by critic, curator and researcher Rianna Jade Parker. Parker received her MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Previously a Tate Collectives Producer, she is a Contributing Editor of Frieze and a founding member of interdisciplinary art collective Thick/er Black Lines.

Discussing the new series of works, Parker writes: “With her cobalt and Prussian blue-dipped brush, Brice contours wide hips and elongated arms ostending the edges of an everyday femme fatale — concerned only with the moment, her medium, but mostly herself.”

In March 2021, a new monograph will be published on the occasion of Brice’s solo exhibition at KM21 in The Hague, containing texts by Jennifer Higgie, Yasmijn Jarram, Aïcha Mehrez, Laura Smith and Attillah Springer.


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