1 June - 25 June
That’s BEAUTY of course. The seduction of the surface, enticing us to the point where we don’t consider, don’t even care, what else there might be, where we might get to if we ever get beneath it. Which, of course, we never will. Glowing and burnished, Rihanna’s smooth shoulder is offered up to us… for what? In the same single movement it invites and forbids. Noli me tangere, 2022-style.
With Eugenia Cuellar in painting after painting it’s Beauty indeed, but according to a very precise definition. Not in opposition to any co-dependent Beast, these are women presenting themselves to the world. Another pun: Cuellar’s view of Kirsten Dunst as seen by Sofia Coppola as Marie Antoinette. Posed, there’s a poise they’re only just maintaining. Any minute the facade could crumble, separating display from attraction.
In Amanda Benson‘s sculptures (is that quite the word?) it’s as if the catastrophe has already happened, but there’s a survival, of sorts. Clumsy, gritty, faintly intimidating, their lack of appeal is balanced by their actuality. The tottering towers stay upright. They win us over by their sheer thereness. It verges on insolence: whatever’s befallen them, they’re still there. Constructed daringly from sometimes discarded and difficult materials yet resisting bricolage, they demand attention as intimate as any celebrity.
Real and imagined women, actual volumes and remembered physical spaces. Bodies and structures that offer us some degree of visual pleasure; scopophilia still isn’t exactly a crime. Though maybe we stand on a threshold, unsure whether to succumb or to resist… Though these are not opposites, the difference is merely the position we take in front of them. What is inside the casket, whether gold or lead is, as always, imponderable. The decision is ours. Or so it appears.
The gallery is 2 minutes walk from Shoreditch High Street station. Alternatively Liverpool Street and Old Street stations are approximately 15 minutes walk from the gallery.
Buses: The 8 and 388 stop close by on Bethnal Green Road. The 149, 67, 242 and 243 stop on Shoreditch High Street.
Please contact Transport for London for detailed travel advice tfl.gov.uk.