In New CAM Show, Nicola Tyson Reimagines the Gaze and the Female Body

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NT 11_018L credit: Nicola Tyson, Self Portrait with Friend, 2011. Oil on canvas, 72 x 95 inches. Courtesy the artist; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Petzel Gallery, New York; and Sadie Coles HQ, London.
  • NT 11_018L credit: Nicola Tyson, Self Portrait with Friend, 2011. Oil on canvas, 72 x 95 inches. Courtesy the artist; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Petzel Gallery, New York; and Sadie Coles HQ, London.

British artist Nicola Tyson takes the female body and turns it inside out in her art. The curves and lines become subject to the inner psyche of her subjects. Her work is all about reimagining the gaze upon the female body.

These strange, yet delightful works will be showcased at Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard, www.camstl.org) for its Spring 2017 exhibition, which opens this Friday, January 27.

With all of the talk about gender equality and how women's bodies are portrayed in the forefront of the national discourse, CAM Executive Director Lisa Melandri says it is a "beautiful moment" to showcase Tyson's work.

"This is an artist who has been engaged in what I would call a feminist practice for many, many years," Melandri says.

Melandri explains that feminist artists think about the traditions of how a female body is viewed by society. Tyson turns those traditions on their heads. It is done through a method called "psycho-figuration."

In psycho-figuration, the artist is not interested in accurately portraying the exact hues of one's skin or the shape of one's eyes, Melandri says. She is interested in what the figure is when psychologically turned inside out. Tyson's paintings and drawings also display a sense of humor, as the viewer sees the body distorted to comic proportions. "This is, really, a chance for audiences to be able to understand more holistically the kind of work that she does and to really look over more than a ten-year period at the way that she has very incisively and beautifully rendered the essence of the human figure," Melandri says.

Tyson will read from her book, Dead Letter Men, a collection of letters to dead artists such as Picasso and Beckmann, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 6. The exhibit runs through April 16.

Tyson_113_Weedwacker credit: Nicola Tyson, Weedwacker, 2013. Acrylic unstretched on linen, 85 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.
  • Tyson_113_Weedwacker credit: Nicola Tyson, Weedwacker, 2013. Acrylic unstretched on linen, 85 x 72 inches. Courtesy the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.


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