How She Looks

We are pleased to present How She Looks, an online exhibition featuring new artworks by Hester Finch, Venetia Berry, Alexandria Coe and Fee Greening. This edit investigates how these four female artists reclaim the subject matter of the female nude (a subject historically mainly painted by male artists who employed a “male gaze” - usually objectifying the female body).

Here however, these artists assert their female gaze; depicting the female form in a new way that is not an object of desire, but an expression of womanhood. The exhibition seeks to flip the female nude from art history on its head – allowing us to reconsider not how she looks ( a passive aesthetic object; the looked at), but rather how she looks (she becoming the active female artist; the looker).

The exhibition has particularly relevance as we launch alongside the opening of The Renaissance Nude at the Royal Academy. The artists make reference to the Renaissance nude in her many guises – as Venus, Madonna, The Three Graces or as Eve, but with a new approach, freshness, and most importantly, a new “look”.

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How She Looks

Venetia’s works speak to the curves of the female nude but abstracts them into shapes and lines. Her wispy forms are free flowing and have a joyous feeling of freedom, whilst marking the impression of womanhood rather than any absolutes. 

 

Alexandria’s new works see a clear reference to the Renaissance. Her charcoal works play on The Three Graces and Dancers, yet are reinterpreted with her own vision. Far from the dancing graces that flaunt their figures to male admires that we see may have seen in the works of Botticelli or Poussin, here we see a group of women who are more like warriors, rejoicing in their nudity and freedom. 

 

As with much of Hester’s work, these works bring to light the often conflicted concept of “nudity”. Sometimes nudity can make the subject vulnerable and offer transparency, but at other times it’s confrontational and provides a disguise. 

 

In Fee’s works we see a totally fresh and very different approach to the topic of the female gaze. Rather than portraying the female form, in Fee’s works we step inside the shoes of three different female artists from history, seeing life through their gaze in the form of a Vanitas. 

“The Renaissance nude is a key part of my inspiration. I love the perverseness and the sexism laden with the representation of female archetypes. There is a lot to learn about traditional male gaze from these Classic works. There is such a power in subversion, I seek to create a language that acknowledges the past, present and future of female roles and imagery.” - Alexandria Coe

 

“I like to use intentionally jarring juxtapositions of bold colours to carve out the flattened planes of the nude which, with her looming shadow, create a psychologically uneasy and ominous interior space.” - Hester Finch

 

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