Radical Women Artists
Over the years women artists, past and present, have been dealt a rough hand by art galleries and art historians. Their work is often not on public display and rarely feature in traditional histories of art.
The statistics are staggering and shocking.
Only around 10 paintings in the permanent collection of the UK's National Gallery's 2300 works are by women. When Tate Modern opened in 2000 only 15 per cent of the exhibits were by women artists. Indeed, throughout the world art galleries are dominated by male artists. A recent survey of the permanent collection of 18 prominent art museums in the US found that out of 10,000 artists, 87% are male and 85% are white.
In recent years there have been attempts to recognise the contribution of women artists through exhibitions and initiatives such as Turner Prize winners and exhibitions organised by regional art galleries and the Tate.
This exhibition features women whose work challenges the status quo and encourages us to think afresh about art's role in society. The examples are a small taster of their work. Why not search them out and explore further their art. Listen to their interviews where they explain the background to their approach to making art.
Lisa Reihana (born 1964) is a New Zealand artist of Māori (Ngāpuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngāi Tu) descent. She works with video, sculpture, costume, text, photography, body art. Her work represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale in 2017. in Pursuit of Venus (infected) featured at the Oceania Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in 2018. Other notable solo exhibitions include Mai i te aroha, ko te aroha, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand (2008); Lisa Reihana: Digital Marae, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2007); and Native Portraits n.19897, Museo Laboratorio di Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy (2007).
Lubaina Himid (born 1954 in Zanzibar) is a British artist and curator. In 2017 she was the first woman of colour to win the Turner Prize. She is professor of contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities. Himid makes paintings, prints, drawings and installations which celebrate Black creativity and the people of the African diaspora while challenging institutional invisibility. She references the slave industry and its legacies, and addresses the hidden and neglected cultural contribution made by real but forgotten people.
Ingrid Pollard (born 1953 in Guyana) is a British artist and photographer. Her work uses portraiture photography and traditional landscape imagery to explore social constructs such as Britishness or racial difference. In the 1980s Pollard produced a series of photographs of black people in rural landscapes, entitled Pastoral Interludes. The works challenge the way that English culture places black people in cities. From 2005 to 2007, she curated Tradewinds 2007, an international residency project with an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands.
Paula Rego (born 1935) is a Portuguese-born visual artist who is particularly known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks. Rego’s style has evolved from abstract towards representational. She has favoured pastels over oils for much of her career. Her work often reflects feminism and criticism of anti-abortion laws. Her works are coloured by folk-themes from her native Portugal. She was the first artist-in-residence at the National Gallery, London. She lives and works in London.
Frida Kahlo (born Magdalena Carmen Frida Kahlo y Calderón; 1907 – 1954) was a Mexican painter known for her many portraits, self-portraits, and works inspired by both Marxism and the nature and artefacts of Mexico. Inspired by the country's popular culture, she employed a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society. Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. In addition to belonging to the post-revolutionary Mexicayotl movement, which sought to define a Mexican identity, Kahlo has been described as a surrealist or magical realist.