The Concept Space is pleased to present the ‘Women don’t paint very well Ms Mela Yerka’, an exhibition of works kindly lent by a private collection and a number of works direct from the artist. The exhibition is a response to an interview given by the pre-eminent post-war artist Georg Baselitz to Der Spiegel in 2013 in which he declared, "Women don’t paint very well. It’s a fact" then backed by another with the Guardian in 2015.
The show uses Yerka’s paintings of 19th Century women whose lives are marked in history by relationships or associati on with powerful and prominent men of the time, to emphasise the notion of struggle by these women for recognition and individuality.
Relying on the male gaze and approval of their mutual lovers to gain appreciation and acceptance, we question if the talent of painters who happen to be women, would have to rely on the male agenda, aesthetics and definition of truth? Is it still the case that painting is overwhelmingly perceived as a masculine medium? Has social exclusion and inaccurate history been a contributing factor in this view?
The works on show only serve to open that dialogue. The exciting sense of freedom shown through the exploration of various techniques and materials is evidence of a practice backed by indepth research. The artist introduces the viewer to refreshing flesh tones, bold colours and subtle evidence of complex layering. A different approach to painting with respect for the tradition but infused with touches of a contemporary practice.
Beauty, ugliness and truth are being left to the viewer to decide. However, one goal is to encourag a positive shift of attitude when considering works worthy of praise and for these to be confidently attributed to painters who may just happen to be female.
Mela Yerka is Polish, but lives and works in London. She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw, Poland and later at Central St Marti ns College of Art, London, United Kingdom. Mela won the Cass Art Painting Prize in 2011 and continues to exhibits internationally