We are thrilled to present Virago, an online exhibition featuring new work by Venetia Berry
Venetia has created ten new works on canvas that celebrate female strength and power, whilst examining the complex relationship that society has with the concept of The Strong Woman. The title, Virago, makes reference to the paradoxical word which is used to describe a woman who is thought to be "domineering, violent or bad-tempered" but at the same time can be used for a woman who is "heroic, or displays masculine qualities".
This problematic word, exemplifies the way that our society often perceives dominant or strong women to be "bossy" or "controlling" whilst their male counterparts are never brandished with the same negative associations for the same behaviours. It also exposes the fact that, if women are thought to be heroic, then their strength is compared to that of a man, rather than being allowed to display strength in a uniquely feminine way.
An accomplished oil painter and portrait artist, Venetia is known for creating works that are whimsical and dream-like. Often painting nude female figures through an abstracted lens and simplifying the form using pure line, her work often aims to reverse the male gaze, challenging the archetypical sexualisation of nudes in art. However in this online exhibition, we see Venetia focus on a new theme.
She says: “Each painting is named after a Greek Goddess or divine energy. As someone who is classically trained, I love this nod towards a subject matter that has been explored throughout art history, often by male artists. I hope within my works to bring a breath of fresh air to these idealised and glorified figures.
Each Goddess represents an aspect of life, which, to me, continues to be present today. I love the implication behind this that despite the monumental development of technology, the things that are fundamental to being human haven’t changed that much."
"The figures within my works do not aim to represent the Greek Goddesses themselves, but more to open up the conversation around what each Goddess represents, and how we can relate these ancient characters to our lives today. They also aim to infer this notion of ‘Virago’, a strong female presence and state of mind” - Venetia Berry