I’ve recently visited three exhibitions that put women artists at the centre stage and present challenging ideas about what it is to be female.
Sarah Lucas at the Whitechapel
Truly one of the most important artists of her generation. Why she never rose to the prominence of her peers Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin is a mystery. The show is an impressive survey of Lucas’ perverse sculptural works, both sickening and sensual simultaneously. The exhibition runs till 15 December at the Whitechapel.
Ana Mendieta at the Hayward Gallery
I’m delighted to see a retrospective of Mendieta’s work, and this shockingly is the first time that Mendieta has had a retrospective in the UK. The exhibition explores development of her practice, demonstrating how pioneering her practice was in the 1970s: at first confrontational, carnal and visceral, then later transforming into the more mystical earth-body works that she is better known for. If it hadn’t been for her untimely (and somewhat suspect) death in 1985 at 36 who knows what her practice may have taken her. Also on till 15 December at the Hayward Gallery.
Home Truths: Motherhood, Photography and Identity at The Photographers’ Gallery
A group show of work that challenges stereotypical representations of motherhood, presenting a series of intimate works produced by mothers, partners and sons. As someone happily unacquainted with the motherhood scenario, I wasn’t all that interested in the personal images of women and their children or their pregnancies. The standout works for me were Janine Antoni’s more playful representation of the demands of being a mother, literally presenting herself as a supporting role for a spider (representing her daughter) to weave a web around her, and Leigh Ledare’s portrait of his mother as both a sexual being and a fragile individual. On at The Photographers’ Gallery until 5 January.