Set at Grace Belgravia, a spa and medical centre for women, the site-specific exhibition will explore the notion of the body, internal desires, the role of the female and abstraction through different media such as ceramics by Clementine Keith-Roach, canvas paintings by Merve İşeri, drawings by Sofia Stevi and sewn textiles by Güneş Terkol. Through variations of material, medium, texture and techniques, each of the four artists’ practices and works overlap through intimacy and form.
The title of the exhibition Ladies’ Paradise is inspired by Émile Zola’s eleventh novel in the Rougon Macquart series titled Au Bonheur des Dames, which takes place in a department store in the mid-19th century. The modernisation of the store and the different roles of women in the book are intertwined with the structure of the exhibition, which focuses on femininity, the body, differing levels of society, gender and identity politics.
In her work Merve İşeri paints directly from the tube, both in acrylic and oil, using pastels and her fingers to work on the cotton she has dyed. In her symbolic, abstract paintings, İşeri aims to develop personal conversations with the viewer. In the same vein, Sofia Stevi merges two opposites in her work; living and dreaming. Her large scale paintings on untreated cotton fabric convey a simultaneous sense of passively observing and actively experiencing different spaces. Clementine Keith-Roach’s artistic style comes from her interest in museums, interiors, souvenirs and ancient objects of the history of form and texture which all have a presence in her sensuous ceramics. She exhumes typologies of art long abandoned, here taking the Cycladic nipple vase and reconceptualising it as an imprint of her own and other women’s bodies. Güneş Terkol takes inspiration from her immediate surroundings, collecting materials and stories, which she weaves into her sewing pieces, videos, sketches and musical compositions both collectively and individually.
The four female artists are not only inspired by their surroundings, but also by their inner world as they explore the notion of belonging, identity linked to a place and the politics of the body. Ladies’ Paradise merges form, abstraction and figuration in response to Grace Belgravia’s classic architecture and sightly location. The curators say:
“I am thrilled to be starting 2018 with this exciting collaborative co-curated exhibition. Nadja Romain and I have been in conversation for a while on how we can work together. Developing Ladies’ Paradise and working with four exceptional artists has been a great way to pursue our conversations into feminist theory and site specificity. Since its foundation in 2014, Open Space Contemporary has been promoting cross-cultural dialogue between artists, curators and art practitioners in London and Istanbul through a nomadic nature.” – Huma Kabakcı
“Having been involved in furthering women’s empowerment for many years, it is exciting to engage in a dialogue with Huma and this group of young female talents. As a member of Grace Belgravia I am thrilled by the opportunity to open this conversation on the female body in a place where women come to improve their body, health and appearance. It’s a unique opportunity to discuss one of the main topics in our society: the display of the female body and the symbolism that surrounds it.” – Nadja Romain