PICASSO, HIS MUSES, MODELS AND MISTRESSES;
In this series, Irene Lees directs her considerable mastery with a pen towards exploring the social and cultural imbalances between the sexes. Through her method of creating hand drawn rhythmic loops or layers of text, brought about through meticulous skill in research and application, she examines the many tumultuous relationships of one of arts most renowned womanisers, Pablo Picasso. It is said that the artist changed his female companions as often as he changed his painting styles. Yet, so few of these women made it out of his orbit unscathed. He is known to have told one of his mistresses that “for me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats” and that “women are machines for suffering”. Lees’ addition to the original compositions include realistic depictions of each of these women, raising questions about why, despite the fact that most of these mistresses, models and muses were fundamentally inspirational in their own lives, they are obscured almost beyond recognition. A fact Lees uses to highlight what some consider to be an ‘unpalatable truth’ about the much-loved Spanish artist.
SYLVIA PLATH, THE BELL JAR;
In this collection of drawings Lees depicts imagery from The Bell Jar; A feminist, semi-autobiographical novel addressing power, male domination, sexual equality and mental illness, published by American author and poet Sylvia Plath. Choosing key imagery from the text, Lees hopes to reveal the novels relevance in today’s society. She compares the imagery of the Fig Tree with a quote by Louise Bourgeois; “We all live in ‘cells’ they are part of our everyday life, they are spaces for withdrawal and/or punishment, of confinement, of oppression. It is like a huge cage, where we can step in, but we are not sure whether we will be able to leave, at least unharmed”. Lees explains that the suffocating feeling of indecision is something that nearly every women and young person can relate to. The knowledge that if you choose the wrong path (fig) the right one might fall before you get it.