Sarah Wiseman Gallery is proud to present the spring exhibition ‘Identities’ featuring the work of four prominent women painters Clare Bonnet, Toni Cogdell, Henrietta Dubrey and Veronica Wells.
In a diverse, exciting exhibition, each of these artists explores a range of themes within figurative art; from personal histories to the influences of fashion and media. All four have a shared theme of seeking personal authenticity through their work, by exploring common and relatable experiences as artists and as women.
‘This exhibition didn’t start out as an exhibition of women’s art exclusively’, explains gallery director Sarah Wiseman. ‘We wanted an exhibition of contemporary figurative painting, and the four artists that came to mind just happen to be women.’
It’s an undeniable fact that women’s issues are under the spotlight in recent months, so this exhibition is at a poignant moment in time. Throughout history, women’s artistic achievements have been far less well acknowledged than their male counterparts. However, with major solo exhibitions at Tate from artists like Marlene Dumas, Yayoi Kusama and Georgia O’Keefe; and at Modern Art Oxford, Jenny Saville, Barbara Kruger and currently Lubaina Himid, it seems that finally, women’s part of the story of art is taking its rightful place.
Clare Bonnet is well known for her paintings of women, who appear in pairs or as solitary figures. The women in Clare’s paintings are known to her, and she actively involves them in the painting process through coversation. "I am interested in the collaboration between the subject and painter in order to create paintings that hold both universal and personal meaning. The painting begins after discussions and shared experiences between myself and my subject, bringing an honesty and history to the work.’
Toni Cogdell’s paintings are more spiritual in their approach using sparkling light and overlaid imagery to explore themes around our dreams and their place in the reality of every-day life. She identifies our need to find personal talismans and signposts, such as a tree spotted on a daily commute or distant hills behind buildings.
Henrietta Dubrey is identified as an abstract artist, although she oscillates between both figurative and abstract arenas; she is an artist who is very much in tune with her instincts. Her painting is largely a reflection of her own life; a range of marks, shapes are juxtaposed or contrasted, her focus shifting along with her mood or interest at that particular time. Her paintings are meditative or tangled, smooth pools of colour, or scrubby washes layered upon the canvas.
Veronica Wells investigates the influence of fashion and popular culture, and the glamour on the pages of fashion magazines. She paints beautiful women in exquisite clothes using daubed, rough brush strokes. They are often distorted, their features exaggerated, exposing a world that is fickle and flawed yet seductive, keeping us going back for more.