Exhibition

Tender Buttons

28 Jun 2024 – 27 Jul 2024

Regular hours

Friday
10:00 – 16:00
Saturday
11:00 – 17:00

Free admission

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Sim Smith

London
England, United Kingdom

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Travel Information

  • Nearest Bus Stop: Camberwell Green (F), bus numbers 35, 40, 42, 45 and Warner Road (J and H) bus numbers 36, 185, 436, N136
  • Nearest London Stations: Oval (Northern Line), Denmark Hill (London Overground and Thameslink) or Loughborough Junction (London Overground and Thameslink)
  • Denmark Hill
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Sim Smith is proud to announce Corri-Lynn Tetz’s first UK solo exhibition ‘Tender Buttons’.

About

Sim Smith is proud to announce Corri-Lynn Tetz’s first UK solo exhibition Tender Buttons. Corri-Lynn Tetz is a Canadian artist whose practice concentrates on the female figure, with imagery taken from a collected archive of found imagery and personal photographs, to create indulgent, dream-like painted scenes that capture the vulnerabilities, enactments, and clichés of femininity. 

The exhibition will open from Friday, 28 June, for meetings and the general public with an opening party and talk with Nancy Dewe Mathews on Thursday, 4 July.

For many years Tetz worked from found images from pornography and fashion magazines, emulating poses of accomplished artists – the actor and the model – in carrying out the simulated act of flawless feminineness. Her paintings have forever searched for the sweet spot between exposure, performance, and the formulaic nature of what it means to be a woman. For this new body of paintings, Tetz decided to work with people she knew, photographing friends and setting up scenes for them to play in. Tetz directed and included what she wanted to paint in these scenes, fur coats, skin, silk tassels, more vulnerable and tender elements. 

“I wanted to paint for pleasure for this show. The pleasure for me of painting a fur coat…”

– Corri Lynn Tetz, June 2024.

 In these scenes, the figures transcend the everyday. Her friends and acquaintances play dress up for this exhibition. Often shrouded in nostalgic symbols of glamour and class, hand-me-downs of grandmother’s fur coats and fringed jackets, silk dresses and underwear, seemingly passé in their connotations but as effective as ever as sexual props. These images are wildly poetic with many moments also created by chance. One painting Gaia Reads Matisse, is a painting of Gaia Matisse, the great-great granddaughter for the painter who Tetz met in New York and invited to pose in her grandmother’s furs. These paintings open up new moments, a space to play in an imagined landscape where women create, portray and watch. 

The exhibition title came about after a conversation with one of Tetz’s best friends. She is a musician and brought up the Broadcast album “Tender Buttons”. 

“Word combinations sometimes have the same effect on me as colours playing off each other, or a juicy brush mark, poetic and sensory. I had really loved Broadcast many years ago and so I started listening to them again when I was working in the studio. I was making the painting 'Eclipse' and I could feel a strong connection between what I was listening to and the image that was forming. It's a kind of hazy, atmospheric, energy that the landscape backdrop and the glowing spots had…it paired so well with the witchy, spell binding vocals and synth. Atmospherically it fit, and for the painting 'Tender Buttons', it was perfect. The gesture in that painting feels tender and kind of naive, and I laughed thinking of the nipple as a body button. I hadn't realized at the time, but Broadcast got the title from a Gertrude Stein book, and I'm now just digging into that. It just adds another layer of meaning to uncover. I like making these connections after paintings or shows are made, it makes it all more of a process of discovery than of knowing.”

 – Corri Lynn Tetz, June 2024.

Tetz handles the paint with a tenderness that has permeated the entire energy of this exhibition; soft, light and sensitive. On top of delicate underpainting, loose brushstrokes of powdery pigments make up the curve of a breast or a sway of a fringe. There are hands held, heads tilted back as if to receive a kiss and hair tucked behind the ear, feminine tropes that we have all come to know and do. Tetz creates these scenes knowingly, suggesting and questioning our feminine place in the world and its history, inviting viewers to contemplate their own narratives.

The paintings tell a story of experience. Tetz grew up in a religious culture that was very focused on boys… “It was good to be a girl but great to be a boy…” she states when talking about the subject. It led to her rejecting femininity as a young woman and then, to her spending her adult life learning how to understand and navigate ideas around femininity and beauty. At art school she was told that she could not be an academic, intelligent painter if she was to use pretty, feminine content or feminine experience and that if a painting was to not show the face of the woman it portrayed, then it objectified her. Tetz plays with this notion in her work, painting women with a feminine touch, with a feminine eye, as a woman herself. Women will also view these paintings of course and what will their experience of them be? 

She does not concern herself with right or wrong, instead, she concentrates on her own experience with femininity. She does not propose an ideal beauty in the exhibition but something more fragile and vulnerable. Flaws exist in the paintings and Tetz leaves them visible, deciding to leave imperfections in an effort to disrupt an otherwise idealised beauty. Tetz has forever tread a blurry and challenging path, where many ideas around the feminine intersect. It is a path that she asks us to follow, permitting us to entrust the process of discovery in this exhibition. Tetz is a painter, but she is also a seductive storyteller, and therein her strength lies. 

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Corri-Lynn Tetz

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